The AIADMK extended support to the three farm bills as they benefited the farmers, and DMK chief M K Stalin, though he could not pick holes even with a magnifying glass, has still announced a protest against it, Chief Minister K Palaniswami asserted on Tuesday.
Palaniswami, who visited Ramanathapuram to inaugurate new projects and distribute government welfare assistance to beneficiaries said his party’s aim is safeguarding the interests of the farmers.
“Since the three bills benefited the farmers, we supported it. We will support any initiative aimed at benefiting the farmers and at the same time oppose any scheme that would affect them and this is our stand and we have made this clear,” he told reporters at Ramanathapuram.
Several schemes aimed at the welfare of farmers including the water resources rejuvenation ‘Kudimaramathu’ and construction of a slew of check dams have been implemented only because he was a farmer, the Chief Minister said answering a question on DMK chief M K Stalin criticising him for calling himself a farmer and supporting the farm bills.
“I am a farmer. To this day I am doing farming and I take pride in calling myself a farmer. Stalin does not know anything about agriculture,” he said, adding since the DMK president could not find fault with the government, he was making unfounded allegations.
Stalin was talking “without knowing” about the bills that have been adopted in Parliament, Palaniswami told reporters at Madurai.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 was in sync with a 2019 Tamil Nadu law, he said.
Farmers are also protected from price fall besides other advantages. “If Stalin can explain what is wrong in these provisions it will be good. Farmers will not be affected, these benefit them and that is why we have supported.”
Tamil Nadu has already taken steps to help farmers sell their produce anywhere freely and only this framework has now been extended across the nation through the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, he said.
“This law is already there in Tamil Nadu. The Centre has brought this Bill since other states do not have it.”
Similarly, after explaining the features of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, he said all the three passed bills have absolutely no adverse impact for farmers and on the contrary, the provisions are good for them and the people.
The farmers market (Uzhavar Sandhai) would continue to function in Tamil Nadu and opposition parties were spreading rumours that these would be affected, he said.
Farmers in states like Punjab were agitated due to spread of rumours that there would be no Minimum Support Price and government procurement but the Centre has categorically made it clear that MSP and procurement would continue, he said.
“We don’t understand why he (Stalin) opposes the farm bills. What is wrong in these laws. He searched with a magnifying glass and could not find any fault (with farm bills). Still, he has announced a protest against the bills,” Palaniswami said.
The “historic” Rs 14,000 crore worth Cauvery Gundaru river-linking project would be inaugurated before the end of January next year, he said.
Unlike the DMK regime, which entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with a private entity for coal bed methane extraction in the fertile Cauvery delta region affecting the farmers interests, it was the AIADMK government which declared it as a protected zone for agriculture, Palaniswami said.
“Can Stalin deny that he was responsible for the project,” he asked, adding this aspect cannot be hidden and farmers would not forget that the leader of the opposition was responsible for that project during the DMK led rule years ago.
To a question on his party’s Rajya Sabha MP, S R Balasubramoniyan’s criticism on some provisions of the farm bills, Palaniswami said: “we will seek an explanation from him. He has said that he has only put on record his opinion. Still, we will ask him to explain.”
Earlier, at a review meeting at the Ramanathapuram Collectorate, Palaniswami said all steps for implementing the Cauvery Gundaru project has been initiated and through the initiative one lakh acre would get irrigation facilities in Ramanathapuram district.
The scheme, part of proposals envisaged under the Peninsular Rivers Development component of the National Perspective Plan, aims at diverting surplus water from Mettur dam to water deficit regions.
On Sunday, the Rajya Sabha passed the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and will do away with the imposition of stock holding limits, was adopted on Tuesday in the upper house.
These three bills have already been passed by the Lok Sabha.