(Eds: with fresh inputs) Bhubaneswar, Nov 13 (PTI) In a shift from the ruling BJD's earlier position to oppose the farm sector reforms introduced by the Centre, the Odisha government on Friday re- promulgated an ordinance on agricultural produce and livestock marketing to attract private investors in the sector.
The state government re-promulgated the ordinance after the tenure of the first ordinance expired on November 12.
Earlier, the state Cabinet in its meeting on Thursday had approved a proposal to re-promulgate the ordinance in the interest of the farmers and agriculture sector.
The opposition Congress, which is strongly opposed to the Centre's new legislations in the farm sector, raised questions on the intention of the state government's act of re-promulgating the ordinance.
'If the ordinance does not have the provision of a seven years jail term and penalty for those denied minimum support price to farmers, there is no means to help farmers.
The farmers must get the MSP, be it from government agencies or the private buyers of crops,' Congress legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra told PTI.
Mishra came down heavily on the Centre's new farm sector legislation and said that there is no provision of safeguarding MSP for farmers in the new laws.
Senior BJD leaders including some ministers, when contacted, expressed their inability to speak on the government's act of re-promulgating the agriculture marketing ordinance.
The state government re-promulgated the ordinance after the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinances six-month tenure expired on November 12. The first ordinance was promulgated on May 13.
Though the state government had initially planned to present the ordinance in the form of a bill for passing in the monsoon session of the state Assembly, it later shelved the idea, amid stiff opposition to the agricultural reforms introduced by the Centre, a BJD leader said on condition of anonymity.
'After being re-promulgated, the ordinance is likely to be presented in form of a bill in the upcoming winter session which commences from November 20,' he said.
BJD MPs had opposed the The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, in parliament.
The state's new ordinance will allow the private entities to invest in the marketing of agricultural produce, chief secretary A K Tripathy said on Thursday after the cabinet gave its nod for re-promulgation of the ordinance.
'The Odisha Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1956 has been amended from time to time, but it is found that the objective was not fully achieved. Agricultural marketing in Odisha still suffers from poor infrastructure and operational inefficiency,' he said.
He also said the OAPM Act prevents private investors from pumping in money in agricultural marketing.
The existing regulatory framework does not support the free flow of agricultural produce and the direct interface between farmers and the processors or exporters, he said.
'To provide a level playing field to sellers and buyers to conclude their transactions transparently, there is an urgent need to revisit the existing law,' the chief secretary said.
The new ordinance, drafted in accordance with the central law, will create a conducive environment for farmers to realise better remuneration, he added.
Meanwhile, the CPI(M) backed Odisha Krushak Sabha affiliated to All India Kissan Sabha (AIKS) came down heavily on the BJD government and accused it of maintaining a 'double standard.' 'We have given a call to the farmers of Odisha to strongly oppose the state governments act of re-promulgating the ordinance,' said OKS secretary Suresh Panigrahi. PTI AAM RG RG