After the state government’s assurance to consider their demands on Friday, various farmers’ organizations in Himachal Pradesh postponed their protest, which they said was successful. However, they gave an ultimatum to the state government that if their demands were not met, they would initiate a “Bharo Andolan Jail” (Mass Court Arrest) on August 17.
The decision was taken by peasant organizations grouped under the banner of Sanyukt Kisan Manch (SKM).
SKM official Sanjay Chauhan said that after massive protests by farmers, the state government was forced to hold a meeting under the chairmanship of the chief secretary even in the absence of the chief minister and other state cabinet ministers.
“The meeting, which was held on behalf of the government, was attended by the Chief Secretary, Secretary for Agriculture, Secretary for Horticulture, Managing Director HPMC, Managing Director Marketing Board,” it said. -he adds.
He added that 30 representatives of peasant organizations attended the meeting, during which their 20-point charter of demands, which was submitted to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on July 28, was discussed.
However, he was unsure about the implementation of their request. He said: “During the meeting, officials, who were asking for a 10-day delay, did not give an affirmation on how to implement the demands on the ground. They only gave us assurances.
The chief secretary assured that the state government will take up the issue with the central government. It is up to the Center to implement the requests, he added.
Among the demands are the implementation of the Market Intervention Program (MIS) modeled on Kashmir and the increase of import duties on apples to 100%.
“During the meeting, it was apparent from the attitude of officials that the government is not serious about the demands of farmers and apple growers,” the official Chauhan said.
“SKM representatives have requested the removal of GST on packaging materials used for agricultural and horticultural purposes, including cartons and trays,” the SKM official said.
“Furthermore, the representatives of farmers’ organizations have also demanded strict enforcement of the APMC Act 2005 in all mandis in the state,” he said, adding that the government had been informed that hundreds crores of rupees were looted annually out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. farmers and apple growers in the state with the connivance of APMC, Arhtiyas and other fruit buyers.
“In mandis, illegal deductions ranging from Rs. 20 to Rs. 150 per carton are made in the name of labor, exemption, bank charges, etc. while the labor charge for a 20 kg box has been set at only Rs. 5 per box. According to the law, no further deductions can be made,” he said, expressing concern that the government is taking a flippant attitude and shitting away from its responsibilities citing understaffing.