Union Minister for Railways and Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal on Monday defended the Centre’s controversial farm laws and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had enacted better laws for the welfare of farmers while citing the example of Punjab’s contractual farming law under which a farmer could be jailed, he claimed, for violating contract norms.

Addressing media in Shimla, Goyal said opposition parties were misleading farmers on new laws for their political gains and the laws were aimed at giving new options for marketing their produce while the old systems will continue.

“The new farm laws will give the farmers choice to decide on their crops and as to where they want to market their produce as there were several lacunae in previous laws.

The contract farming law of Punjab is an example of flaws in previous rules as under existing law, a farmer can be jailed for violating the contract while new law doesn’t have any such provisions,” he added.

He said the new law did not had any bindings on farmers if he wants to come out of a set contract and he can choose to quit the contract at any point of time. A farmer can sell his crop if he was getting better prices in the market than the set contract or he can demand a bonus from the traders.

In the new law, only traders can be punished if he violates the terms and conditions of contract, he said.

Responding to a query on loss to Railways due to farmers protest, Goyal said the Central government didn’t consider losses from farmers’ protests as the government considers them their own.

The Central government was working for the welfare of the farmers and was making efforts to increase their income, he claimed.

He further stated that the Railway ministry was mulling to transport apples through Kisan Rail and directions had been given to officials to transport the crop from Ambala Railway station to different parts of the country and ports to market it at international level.Goyal lauded the Himachal Pradesh government for improving upon the Ease of Doing Business index and said on Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s initiatives, the state had moved from 16th rank to 7th place in a short period of time.

But the state government will now have to make more efforts to sustain its place on Ease of Doing Business index and the government need to make sincere efforts to make upward progress on the index among the other states of the country, he added.

Goyal also said that the Centre will tie up with the HP government to showcase one product from each district of the state at all the Missions across the world.

Goyal lauded the efforts of Jai Ram Thakur government for promotion of exports and said the government had set up export promotion committees in all districts which will give impetus to trade in the state.

“A fresh survey of Jagadhari- Paonta Sahib new railway line will be conducted with a focus on freight expected from Paonta Sahib industrial area.

A study will be conducted by Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) to examine if the Kalka-Shimla track could be strengthened to improve the speed of the trains plying on this track,” he said.

Goyal said a budget allocation of Rs 770 crore had been made for infrastructure projects and safety works in the state in the Budget for the year 2021-22, which was 613 per cent more than the average allocation during the period 2009-2014.

Besides, coaches of Kalka- Shimla Railway should be designed and manufactured to enhance the tourism experience, he said.

He added that Railway officials had been directed to prepare vista dome type coaches so that the tourists could get a panoramic view of the beautiful valleys along the route.

Union Minister said Rs 405 crore had been allocated for Bhanupalli-Beri railway line and Rs 200 crore for Chandigarh- Baddi Railway line in the Budget for 2021-22.