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MSP panel forms 4 sub-groups even as farmers descend on Delhi again

Commuters brave traffic snarls; SKM stays away from the protests; next MSP panel meet likely in Hyderabad

Agriculture | farmers | minimum support price

Sanjeeb Mukherjee & Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Farmers gather to protest at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on Monday. PTI
Farmers gather to protest at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

The high-powered panel constituted by the government on (MSP) following the repeal of the farm laws, in its first meeting on Monday, formed four sub-groups to take up various issues and discussed matters even as thousands of once again gathered in Delhi to press for their demand for legalising the MSP.

The first sub-group will take up the Himalayan states, cropping patterns, crop diversification, and how to ensure MSP support there.

The second group is on micro-irrigation and will be headed by Sukhpal Singh, who is from IIM Ahmedabad.

The third, to be led by a representative of the Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), will study “zero budget-based farming”, including organic and natural farming methods.

The fourth will be led by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and will take up crop diversification and cropping patterns across the country.

The MSP committee, headed by former secretary Sanjay Agrawal, discussed ways to promote “zero budget-based farming”, and make MSP “effective and transparent”.

“A presentation was given on three topics which the committee is required to examine and recommend. What and how it needs to be done, which state governments have done better so far and the successful models and learning -- were discussed,” committee member Binod Anand told PTI.

NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand was not present in the meeting.

“The next meeting is expected to be held in Hyderabad, the dates for which will be finalised soon,” a member of the panel said.

There are 26 members including the chairman of the committee and three membership slots have been kept aside for representatives of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).

While announcing the repeal of the farm laws in November last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to set up a committee to look into MSP issues.

Other members who attended the meeting include agricultural economists CSC Shekhar from the Indian Institute of Economic Development, Sukhpal Singh, and Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) senior member Naveen P Singh.

Meanwhile, the original SKM, which had spearheaded the year-long agitation in Delhi, surprisingly stayed away from the protests.

Yogendra Yadav, a prominent voice during the farmers’ protests, tweeted that the kisan mahapanchayat being organised in Delhi had nothing to do with the SKM.

The protestors called themselves SKM-apolitical.

This has once again brought out the rift in the conglomeration of farmers, which at one time boasted of being a grouping of more than 300 outfits from all over the country.

Commuters in Delhi had a harrowing time, something that brought back memories of difficulties they faced while the agitation was on.

There were massive traffic jams at the Delhi border, including Ghazipur and Singhu, with some of the commuters getting stuck for more than an hour due to extensive checking and curbs by the police to prevent a situation similar to 2020.

“The mahapanchayat is a one-day-long peaceful event where we will reiterate our demands such as legal guarantees for MSP and cancelling the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022,” said Abhimanyu Singh Kohar, an SKM (non-political) member and organiser of the “mahapanchayat”.

The SKM has rejected this committee and decided not to nominate its representatives.

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First Published: Mon, August 22 2022. 20:57 IST