Agriculture

Farmers in Odisha protest Centre’s agri laws

Bargarh gathering pledges solidarity with those sitting in at Delhi borders

 
By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Saturday 23 January 2021

Farmers of western Odisha January 23 protested in Bargarh district, demanding the immediate repeal of the three contentious agriculture-related laws enacted in Parliament’s Monsoon session.

They assembled in the district town and raised slogans in solidarity of farmers protesting at Delhi’s Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and other border areas. There was a demonstration against the Narendra Modi government’s alleged anti-farmer, pro-corporate policies at the city’s Gandhi Chowk.

Bargarh district, irrigated by the Hirakud Dam canal system, is known as Odisha’s “rice bowl” because of its high contribution to the state’s food basket.

The Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanmaya Samiti (OKSS) — western Odisha farmers’ organisation coordination committee — organised the protest on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Veer Surendra Sai, a symbol of Sambalpur’s revolt against the British.

“The central government must repeal the black farm laws. They will not only ruin the farmers and open the floodgates for corporate companies into farm sector but also adversely affect the consumers as they will dictate the prices of the produces,” Ashok Pradhan, convenor of the OKSSS, said.

Pradhan questioned the intention of the central government in pushing the laws through an ordinance during COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the bills for the farm sector was prepared and made into law without any consultations with the stakeholders (farmers). He warned that they would intensify their protests if the “draconian” laws were not repealed immediately.

Besides Bargarh, farmers from districts like Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Sundargarh, Sonepur, Balangir and Kalahandi participated in the demonstration. According to the OKSSS, some farmers’ representatives will also leave for Delhi to join the sit-in at Singhu border. Many farmers from the state left for Delhi a week ago.

Farmers across the country have been protesting against the three farm laws:

  • The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
  • Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance
  • Farm Services Bill, 2020

as well as the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act since they were tabled in Lok Sabha. Farmers in Odisha said that they were late in registering their protests because they were busy in harvesting of paddy, which was not yet over in the state. 

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