BJP, JD(S) term Bill ‘anti-farmer’, Opposition stages walkout in Assembly

Amid a walkout by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (Secular) members, the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013, which envisages introduction of warehouse-based sales and single unified licence to traders.

Minister for Agricultural Marketing and Horticulture Shamanur Shivashankarappa introduced the Bill and said it proposed to introduce market reforms in the agricultural marketing sector by introduction of warehouse-based sales, single unified licence to traders and improved marketing access. It said no market fee would be levied on flowers, fruits and vegetables and the marketing committee would collect user charge from buyers of the produce at such rates specified in the bylaws approved by the Director of Agriculture Marketing.

The Director of Agriculture Marketing would issue trader licences to operate as trader in any of the APMC yards, private market yards in the State. The existing licensee should obtain a fresh trade licence within a period of six months from the date of commencement of the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Second Amendment) Act, 2013. The Bill envisages establishing a direct purchase centre to buy notified agricultural produce directly from an agriculturist. It also proposed to set up a Registering Authority for addressing disputes arising out of contract farming. It would resolve the dispute within 30 days from the date of reference of dispute by giving the parties a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

Earlier, BJP and JD(S) members said the Bill was not in the interest of farmers and demanded its withdrawal. The former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, K.G. Bopaiah, Basavaraj Bommai, Vishweswara Hegde Kageri, Appachu Ranjan, C.T. Ravi, Govind M. Karjol (all BJP), leader of the Opposition H.D. Kumaraswamy, Shivalinge Gowda and Y.S.V. Datta (all JD-S) urged the government to withdraw the Bill and refer it to the joint House committee for detailed study.

Mr. Shivashankarappa and Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra defended the Bill and said it would eliminate the role of middlemen in APMCs and allowed traders to sell produce in any market in the State.

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