Karnataka: Amid stir, APMC bill clears council hurdle | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Even as farmers protested new state policies, the BS Yediyurappa government on Wednesday pushed the controversial APMC bill through in the council.
The Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was passed with a voice vote amid a walkout by Congress members. JD(S) members kept demanding a division of votes, but council chairman Pratap Chandra Shetty didn’t heed the calls and allowed the passage of the bill.
The bill will amend the 1966 APMC law, deleting several provisions. The changes will enable farmers to sell their produce anywhere without the intervention of APMCs. Food processing companies will be free to buy commodities directly from farmers.
The bill was passed in the assembly during the monsoon session of the legislature. But it was defeated in the council, forcing the BS Yediyurappa government to promulgate an ordinance.
During a debate on the bill in the council on Wednesday, opposition leader SR Patil alleged that there was a conspiracy to dismantle the APMC system that had been in existence since 1931 and had played a major role in protecting the interests of farmers. “These APMCs have an annual turnover of Rs 40,000 crore and 70 per cent of farmers depend on APMCs to sell their produce. The new bill will dismantle all this. Besides, more than 2 lakh hamalis, who work in APMCs, will become jobless,” Patil claimed.
Congress members Rudrappa Lamani and B K Hariprasad also criticised the bill and urged the government to refer it to a joint select committee for a fresh scrutiny.
JD(S) member Marithibbegowda also opposed the bill and questioned the government’s claim that the bill would end the menace of middlemen and commission agents. “More than 80 per cent of businesses have middlemen. Why is the government bothered about middlemen only in APMCs?” he asked.
Cooperation minister ST Somashekhar, who led the bill, said that the apprehensions that the minimum support price (MSP) system would be scrapped and APMCs would shut down were unfound. He said that there was no connection between the MSP system and the APMC bill. “It is a historic bill, which is being introduced to help farmers. APMCs will continue to be there,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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