Karnataka farmers protest changing APMC, land reform laws


Bengaluru, Sep 21 (IANS): Hundreds of farmers from across Karnataka staged a massive protest rally on Monday here against amendments to the APMC Act and Land Reforms Act by the BJP government.

"We are against the state government amending the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act and the Land Reforms Act as they are anti-farmer and anti-people," thundered Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha state president Kodihalli Chandrashekar while addressing the rally.

Dressed in their traditional attire with a green towel on their shoulders and many of them sporting cloth headgear, the farmers, including women marched from the city railway station to the freedom park in the city centre, as the police did not allow them to proceed to the Vidhana Soudha where the monsoon session of the state legislature began earlier in the day.

"We will not budge from our agitation till the state government withdraws the bills to amend the Acts to replace the ordinances it promulgated in May amid the Covid pandemic," asserted Chandrashekar in Kannada, while staging a sit-in demonstration on the middle of the road, disrupting vehicular traffic and shouting slogans against the ruling BJP and its government.

Alleging that amendments to both the Acts would benefit more corporates and multinational firms, Chandrashekar said the state and central governments were taking anti-agriculture and anti-farmer decisions unilaterally.

"The amendments will deprive farmers of getting better prices for our produce and hold on to our farmlands if non-agriculturists are allowed to buy our lands for non-farming activities," reiterated Chandrashekar.

State Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J.C. Madhuswamy is set to introduce the bills in the legislative assembly on Tuesday to amend the APMC Act and the Land Reforms Act.

The opposition Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) have also opposed the amendments, alleging they were against the interests of farmers.

As the ruling BJP has majority in the House, the bills are expected to be passed by voice vote after discussion, though the Congress and JD-S said they would oppose them.

Defending the amendments, state Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa earlier said the revised APMC Act would empower the farmers to sell their produce for the best price in the APMC yard or outside it.

"The amended APMC Act will lift restrictions on sale of farm produce and allow farmers to sell their crop in APMC yard or in private markets where they get the best price," said Yediyurappa.

Noting that the amended Act would benefit farmers in improving their income and reduce losses due to market fluctuations, the chief minister said the new law would also protect them from volatile market trends.

"It will help farmers in doubling their income, as wished by the prime minister," Yediyurappa added.

The amendment will not dilute powers or work of APMCs, as all marketing activities will be monitored by the state APMC director.

Clarifying that his government was not removing the APMCs or the Act governing their activities, the chief minister said only two sections of the law were being amended to enable farmers sell their produce in markets where they get maximum remuneration.

The new law will stop exploitation of farmers by market forces, middlemen and commission agents and prevent them from selling their produce in distress when prices fall. They can sell their produce to those who pay them the highest price," pointed out Yediyurappa.

The amendment to the Land Reforms Act, 1961 will allow anyone, including non-agriculturists to buy and own farmlands across the state for agricultural activities.

The state cabinet on June 12 agreed to amend the Land Reforms Act to allow all citizens to purchase agricultural lands for farming or growing vegetables and fruits.

Sections 63A, 79A and 79B of the Act barred non-agriculturists from buying farmlands as property in the interests of farmers who were entitled to buy for growing more foodgrains or other crops.

 

 

  

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