30,000 Maharashtra farmers march to Mumbai, plan to block access to state legislature bldg
Around 30,000 farmers, led by the Maharashtra unit of the farmers’ outfit, Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha (ABKS), are marching towards Mumbai to block access to the state legislature building from Monday until their demands are met.
The farmers’ march, which started in Nashik on Tuesday, reached near Thane district on Thursday. They are planning to reach Mumbai by Sunday evening. The protest is likely to create trouble for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government as the budget session of the state legislature is underway.
Farmers in Maharashtra, who are struggling to cope with the agrarian crisis and natural calamities, are demanding proper implementation of the loan waiver package announced by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in 2017, the implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and protesting the government’s, what they call, anti-farmer policies.
“The state government declared a loan waiver package, but 1,753 farmers have committed suicide [since then] because it has failed miserably because of poor implementation. Around 30,000 farmers have come together for the agitation demanding their rights,” said Ajit Nawale, state general secretary, ABKS.
The ABKS also wants farmers in the state to be given Rs40,000 per acre as monetary assistance for crop damage because of last month’s hailstorms and unseasonal rains. The march is being held to provide relief to distressed farmers, Nawale said.
The ABKS was part of the steering committee of farmers’ outfits that started unprecedented strikes last year. The protests forced the state government to announce a Rs34,022 crore farm loan waiver scheme. This time, the ABKS has decided to take on the government on its own.
The organisation also wants the state to implement recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, which includes better minimum support price for farm produce. It also wants pending electricity bills to be waived and power restored, where it has been cut, among other things.
The state has been seeing multiple farmer agitations. The Nationalist Congress Party, led by Sharad Pawar, will be holding a huge rally at Nashik on March 10 against the state government on farmers’ issues. The party had recently concluded the third leg of its Halla Bol Andolan in Jalgaon, north Maharashtra. The party has organised similar stirs in Vidarbha and Marathwada in the past three months.