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Day after ultimatum by farmers’ outfits, Maharashtra CM appoints group for talks with them

Mumbai city news: The group comprises six senior ministers who will meet with farmers’ leaders and submit a report to the govt within a few weeks

mumbai Updated: Jun 10, 2017 09:54 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,farmers stir,cm
Fadnavis had announced a Rs30,000 crore farm loan waiver for 31 lakh farmers last Saturday.(HT)

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday appointed a high-powered ministerial group to hold discussions with farmers’ outfits staging agitations for a farm loan waiver and protection against falling prices of agricultural produce. The group will be headed by revenue minister Chandrakant Patil.

The move comes a day after farmers’ core committee on Thursday announced they would intensify their agitation if the state failed to consider their demands in three days.

Fadnavis had announced a Rs30,000 crore farm loan waiver for 31 lakh farmers last Saturday. While some farmer groups called off the agitation, several others, including the Shetkari Sanghatana and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), headed by NDA ally Raju Shetti, decided to intensify their efforts. These groups want loans taken by all 1.34 crore farmers in the state to be written off. Fadnavis has now responded to the farmers’ outfits and immediately opened a channel for talks with them.

The group comprises six senior ministers, including finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar, cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh, water resources minister Girish Mahajan and transport minister Diwakar Raote, who is from the Shiv Sena. They will meet with farmers’ leaders and then submit a report to the government in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the core committee of the farmers organisations is meeting on Saturday in Mumbai to decide the further course of action. The committee is then likely to meet the high-power group of ministers either in the evening or on Sunday. “We are open for discussion with the government. We will have our meeting first to fix the agenda to be taken up during meeting with the ministers,” Raghunath Patil, one of the members of the committee, told HT.

Fadnavis and Patil appealed to farmers to participate in the talks to work out a solution.

“The loan waiver has already been announced. The committee will deliberate with various stakeholders, including Opposition, farm activists and experts to ensure the waiver is not given to wealthy farmers. The farmers with huge landholdings or with family members in government jobs should not benefit from the waiver. The committee will find out ways to keep such farmers out. We will submit our report at the earliest so that the waiver is announced before October 31,” said Chandrakant Patil.

He said once the report was submitted by the committee to the state government, it will be sent to the finance department to examine the financial implications before putting it before the cabinet. He said the entire procedure will be completed before October 31 as announced by the CM.

Minister of state for agriculture and SSS leader Sadashiv Khot is not part of the high-powered committee. Farmers’ organisations and SSS leaders agitating against the government have being criticising Khot for not standing by the farmers.

Following their meeting in Nashik on Thursday, the members of the core committee of farmers’ outfits had announced protests at revenue offices across the states from June 12 and blocking rail lines on June 13. They also threatened not to allow any ministers to hold programmes anywhere in the state.

First Published: Jun 10, 2017 09:51 IST