Farmers’ strike: Mumbai may escape impact of bandh call
Mumbaiites, don’t let the bandh call worry you, supply is plentiful and prices in the wholesale market have returned to normal. Vehicles bringing in vegetables from outside Maharashtra have come to Mumbai’s rescue, ensuring that there is no shortage in the city’s markets.
The supply of milk and vegetables to Mumbai’s markets was not heavily impacted by the bandh announced by farmers. Many markets in and around the city said around 455 vehicles (tempos and trucks) arrived with supplies. Usually, about 550 commodity-bearing vehicles reach the city’s markets from various parts of the state.
Around 550 trucks reached the APMC wholesale market in Navi Mumbai on Monday, twice the number of vehicles that had arrived on Sunday, when the market stayed open on what is usually its weekly holiday.
“We received adequate supplies today. As many as 550 of the 650 vehicles that come here daily have arrived. Of these, 30% arrived from various parts of Maharashtra and the rest arrived from places outside the state,” said Kailash Tanaje, president of vegetable wholesalers association.
“Owing to the plentiful supply, prices that had doubled in the wholesale market last week have returned to normal,” he added.
The loan waiver announced by Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday did not quell farmers’ protests entirely. Instead, it led to a split among the agitating groups. While one faction called off the strike on Saturday, factions from Pune and western parts of the state called for a statewide bandh on Monday. These include the Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Kisan Kranti Morcha, the umbrella body of farmers.
The agitation has now shifted from the previous epicentre of Puntambe in Ahmednagar district to the state’s vegetable belt — Nashik. Opposition parties, as well as the Bharatiya Janta Party’s ally — the Shiv Sena — have supported the bandh.
Although the bandh will skip Mumbai, residents had suspected that the supply of fruits and vegetables would be affected. According to figures by the Nashik agricultural produce market committee (APMC), around 750 tonnes of vegetables are transported to Mumbai from Nashik, where the agitation is currently ongoing.
So far, the bandh has impacted several parts of western Maharashtra and a few districts in central Maharashtra (Marathwada) and Vidarbha. Agricultural markets were shut in Buldhana, Parbhani, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Kolhapur, Solapur, Pune, Hingoli and Aurangabad.
Stray incidents of farmers spilling milk were reported in Sangamner in Ahmednagar, Pune and Hingoli. Protesting farmers damaged a milk tanker at Rahuri in Ahmednagar. Farmers burnt effigies of the chief minister and social activist Anna Hazare at Pimpri in Pune.
Farmers staged rasta rokos across the state and disrupted traffic at several places. At Yavatmal in Vidarbha, protesters blocked roads, leading to traffic snarls. At Manmad in Nashik district, farmers threw vegetables on the streets.
Fadnavis, speaking to the media on Saturday, insisted that the continued agitations were a result of a concentrated effort by political opponents to destabilise his government.