NEW DELHI: Indian government officials and protesting farmers once again refused to find consensus on the farmers’ appeal for the abolition of new agricultural reform laws.
With the government reluctant to abolish the law, the farmers vowed to continue to block main highways connecting the capital with the north of the country.
The two sides decided to meet on Friday for further negotiations.
If it wishes to solve the farmers’ problems is up to the state. Unless our demands are fulfilled, we will not stop our demonstrations,’ said Hannan Mollah, a leader of the farmers.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the rains and the current cold spell, tens of thousands of farmers have been blocking the highways for almost 40 days.
Farmers worry that the government will avoid purchasing grain under the laws at minimum guaranteed rates and that companies will then force down prices. The government has announced that it is prepared to promise that fixed rates will remain.
The farmers argue that the legislation would lead to agricultural cartelisation and commercialisation and make farmers prone to corporate greed.
If their demands are not fulfilled, the farmers have vowed to stage a rally on January 26 as India celebrates Republic Day.
At their last meeting on 30 December, the two sides reached consensus on two issues, namely that the government would continue to subsidise electricity for irrigation farms and that farmers would not be fined for burning residues from crops that are a source of air pollution.