New farm laws bigger threat than Coronavirus, says farmer leaders

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New farm laws bigger threat than Coronavirus. Indian farmers protesting at Delhi border on Monday.

New farm laws bigger threat than Coronavirus, says farmer leaders amid fears that the farmers Delhi Chalo’ protests will lead to coronavirus spreading faster.

The farmer leaders said that the new farm laws enacted at the Centre are a bigger threat than the pandemic. There had been few signs of social distancing as thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana began their protest last week against the three new agro-marketing laws, setting off on a march to the national capital.

On the way, the farmers skirmished with police at barricades, and since Friday, they have stay put at Delhi’s entry points. Many of them are sheltering inside tractor-trolleys. Masks appear to be a rarity and there is little attempt at keeping distance from each other. Safeguards meant to prevent the infection from spreading.

Experts fear event a coronavirus superspreader

Experts fear that the event could become a coronavirus superspreader. But farmer leaders say there are more pressing concerns before them. The new farm laws of the Modi government are a bigger threat than coronavirus as farmers fear they will lose their livelihood with the implementation of these laws, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan told.

Farmers want the Narendra Modi government to revoke three contentious laws approved by Parliament in September. The laws change the way farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to the decades-old, government-controlled agricultural markets.

Together, the new farm laws allow businesses to freely trade farm produce outside the so-called government-controlled “mandi system”. The new laws permit private traders to stockpile large quantities of essential commodities for future sales.

The Indian farm leaders say the reforms would make the farmers vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations. It will erode their bargaining power and weaken the government’s procurement system.

Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and railways minister Piyush Goyal had held day-long negotiations with farmers on November 13. The discussions were inconclusive but both the sides had agreed to continue negotiations in the future.

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