New Delhi: Two farmer bills seeking ‘freedom from indebtedness’ and the ‘right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support price (MSP)’ were introduced in Lok Sabha today as private member bills by Raju Shetti, member of parliament from Swabhimani Paksha. In all, 21 political parties – including the Congress, CPI(M), Shiv Sena, NCP, TMC, BSP and DMK – have extended their support to the bills.
The Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill 2018 seeks a one-time immediate loan waiver, right to access institutional credit, debt relief for farmer affected by natural disasters. The bill seeking guaranteed and remunerative MSP, the Farmers Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Price For Agricultural Commodities Bill, also seeks a comprehensive estimation of costs of production, ban on auction or offer of price below MSP, obligation on government to open procurement centres.
“Today farmers are distressed and are denied their rights. Instead of listening to the farmers, the government is misleading them. To safeguard the interest of the farmers, we have introduced this bill as a private member bill,” said Raju Shetti.
Shetti also explained that the issue of indebtedness and remunerative prices is connected. “If the issue of remunerative prices alone is tackled without providing relief from indebtedness, the increased returns will only go towards repaying loans. On the other hand, if only loan waivers are provided without addressing the issue of remunerative prices, farmers will again be pushed back in to the debt trap,” he said.
The drafts of the two bills have been prepared by the All India Kisan Sanagharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella organisation of around 200 farmer organisations from across the country. It was formed after the death of five protesting farmers in Mandsaur last year.