Maharashtra farmers call for bandh, govt says it is Opposition’s tactic
Mumbai city news: Prices of vegetables, fruits likely to soar in the coming days as supply to Mumbai to get hitUpdated: Jul 04, 2017 01:35 IST
Refusing to acknowledge chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s announcement assuring loan waiver by October-end, a section of farmers have decided to continue the ongoing strike and called for a day-long, state-wide bandh on Monday.
Those protesting comprise farmers’ organisations from western Maharashtra, including Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS). The protest is likely affect the supply of fruits and vegetables to Mumbai.
However, government sources claimed that Monday’s bandh is more of a political stir rather a farmers’ strike. They also claimed that the ‘original’ strike called by the farmers has already fizzled out .
“How can an agitation continue after the government has met all their demands? It is clear that these are not farmers, but all opposing political parties, who want to milk dividends from the strike,’’ said a senior home department official.
Meanwhile, Shetti, whose party is an NDA ally and part of the Maharashtra government, slammed the state for deceiving farmers. He said that the “income of the farmers has not doubled, but their debts have.”
“We are participating in the farmers’ strike. I could not attend the meeting in Nashik, but I have extended my support. I have also appealed to the farmers and other people, who are part of the strike, not to destroy the (agricultural) produce. No farmer will sell his produce at any of the markets,” Shetti told HT.
Ajit Nawale, state general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, who was also part of the delegation that met Fadnavis on Friday night, said, “We had a meeting with over 28 farmer’s organisation in Nashik today and have decided to call for a bandh on Monday. No vehicles with agricultural produce will go to the major markets across the state.”
Another Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally, the Shiv Sena, has also backed the daly-long bandh.
As per the official figures, nearly 750 tonnes of vegetable is sent to Mumbai from Nashik, including 250 tonnes of onion. Officials from the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), Vashi, said the number of trucks coming from Nashik have reduced since the farmers’ strike, and is likely to drop further on Monday. While onions are priced at Rs20 per kilo in Mumbai markets, the price is likely to shoot up in the coming days as the supply will be hit.
Fadnavis, while speaking to the media on Saturday, also insisted that the continued agitations were a result of a concentrated effort by political opponents to destabilise his government.
After a marathon three-hour meeting with farmers’ representatives on early Saturday, Fadnavis announced that a loan waiver scheme would be in place by October 31 for at least 34 lakh small and marginal farmers in the state. However, farmers’ group were divided after the meeting and those from Nashik, Pune, and other parts of western Maharashtra have decide to continue the strike.
The epicentre of the farmer’s strike, which originated in Puntambe in Ahmednagar district, has now shifted to Nashik. Majority of vegetables and fruits are supplied to Mumbai from Nashik and Pune.