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Why 30,000 farmers are threatening to gherao Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha

Mayuresh Ganapatye
Mayuresh GanapatyeMar 11, 2018 | 16:58

Why 30,000 farmers are threatening to gherao Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha

Demanding waiver of all farm loans and implementation of Swaminathan Commission report, thousands of farmers have reached the outskirts of Mumbai and intensified their protest. The march that started with 12,000 people from the CBS Chowk in Nashik on March 6 has now been joined by nearly 18,000 more farmers taking the number of agitators to 30,000.

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Under the leadership of the All India Kisan Sabha - farmer wing of Communist Party of India (Marxist) - the protesters, who will be covering a total of 180km on foot, aim to stage a sit-in at the state Assembly. The agitating farmers are likely to troop into south Mumbai and gherao the Vidhan Bhavan to press for their demands on Monday, March 12.

Support for the agitation has been rising with Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena backing the farmers' demands.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde visited the protesters late Friday night, but clarified that he had come with party chief Uddhav Thackeray's message and not as a minister in the Maharashtra government.

Their grievance

Apart from a complete loan waiver, the farmers are demanding that their electricity bills be waived, proper minimum support price for their produce is fixed, the rights of Tribal cultivators over forest land is recognised by implementing the Forest Rights Act. The list of demands also seeks implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

In 2017, a similar 11-day protest had hit Maharashtra with farmers were seen throwing their produce on the roads instead of taking them to the markets. The protest forced the Devendra Fadnavis government to announce a conditional Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver, which has reportedly not been implemented.

The farmers are blaming the Fadnavis government for not keeping its promises to alleviate the farm crisis.

Ashok Dhavle, president of the All India Kisan Sabha, said: "From the forest land right to loan waiver, the government merely made promises to the Tribals and farmers, but did nothing. We will stay put at the Vidhan Sabha till our demands are met."

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The march has led to traffic chaos on roads connecting Thane and Mumbai to Nashik and with the board exams being underway, the Mumbai police have closed certain routes for heavy vehicles and load carrying vehicles.

Farmers, meanwhile, are complaining that they have not been given the loan waiver that was promised to them.

Subhash, a 60-year-old marginal farmer from Nashik, said that despite filling the online form, he has not received the loan waiver. He also complained that several rounds made to government offices brought no relief to him.

Another farmer named Kangodi had this to say, "I am fed up with government policies. How long do we have to wait for the waiver? I have left all my work to join the protest as I have no money now. This government made tall promises but failed to fulfil them."

Narayan Gavit, a Tribal farmer, said that he was promised that the land belonging to the forest department that he was farming would be transferred to him, but nothing happened.

Gavit went on to say that this time mere promises won't help as the protesters would camp in Mumbai as long as their demands are not met.

Mumbai is headed for a huge showdown if the government doesn't make quick moves to assuage the farmers' grievances and come up with an amiable solution.

Last updated: March 12, 2018 | 19:06
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