Maharashtra farmers call off protest after Fadnavis bows to their demands

Govt agrees to waive loans, issue ration cards to tillers in tribal areas

Maharashtra farmers protesting in Mumbai | Photo: Kamlesh D Pednekar

The farmers’ agitation in Maharashtra was called off on Monday evening after the state government conceded most for their demands and agreed to implement the conditions agreed upon in the next six months.

A 12-member delegation representing farmers met a ministers’ committee in the afternoon. It was given a letter, signed by the chief secretary, in which the government agreed to address complaints and appeals under the Forest Act, 2006, in the next two months and relax some of the conditions for loan-waiver eligibility.

The government also agreed to issue ration cards to farmers in tribal areas immediately to help them prove their land claims. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the farmers that he will take up with the Centre the matter of minimum support price (MSP) at one-and-a-half times the cost of production as suggested by the Swaminathan committee. On Monday, over 35,000 farmers from across Maharashtra converged on Azad Maidan in Mumbai. They had started from Nashik on March 6 and travelled over 180 km on foot. Their plan was to gherao the Assembly.

Some of the other main demands were an unconditional farm loan waiver, as some of them failed to qualify for any financial relief under the Maharashtra government’s initiative last year, and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers who have been tilling it for years.

The protest march was orchestrated by the All-India Kisan Sabha, which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Besides Opposition parties, Shiv Sena, a partner in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led ruling coalition, also supported the agitation.

CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechuri with farmers take part in ‘Kisan long march’ organised by All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at Azad Maidan in Mumbai Photo: PTI

In the Union Budget for 2018-19, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed implementing the Swaminathan committee’s recommendations.

But, there is uncertainty over the cost to determine the MSP.

Click here to read → Kisan Long March


Maharashtra farmers’ long march: 50,000 at Azad Maidan; top 10 developments

The protesters, joined by tribals, had halted at the KJ Somaiya Ground before marching towards Azad Maidan on Monday morning

 Maharashtra farmers' protest
After an arduous journey of almost 170 km that started on March 5, a swarm farmers participating in ‘kisan long march’ to voice their demands to the Maharashtra government, finally reached Mumbai on Sunday. The numbers heavily increased along the way from 30,000 agitatators to about 50,000, according to the organisers.
Enduring the scorching heat in a march that started from Maharashtra’s Nashik district six days ago, the farmers moved slowly across the length of Mumbai and finally reached Azad Maidan on Monday at 5 in the morning. The protesters, joined by tribals, had halted at the KJ Somaiya Ground before making their way to Azad Maidan.
The farmers in the rally are demanding a complete waiver on loans and electricity bills, ensuring remunerative prices for crops, and implementing the Forest Rights Act for the benefit of scheduled tribes, among other things.
Last year, the Maharashtra government had announced a loan waiver of Rs 40 billion under the first phase of the farm loan waiver scheme. Today, the farmers plan to lay siege to the Maharasthra Assembly in Mumbai where the state Budget session is underway.
“We will gherao the Vidhan Bhavan on Monday to demand a complete loan waiver, fair price for farm produce, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, compensation for hailstorm-affected farmers among other things,” Kisan Gujar, President of the state council of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) told PTI.
Here are the top 10 developments around the Maharashtra farmers’ protest at Azad Maidan:
1. Food distributed among farmers halted at Azad Maidan; several suffering from dehydration: According to media reports, food is being distributed among farmers camped at Azad Maidan before they embark on to their march towards State Assembly later in the day.
Several farmers in the process are reportedly dehydrated after marching for more than 30 km on Sunday in Mumbai. There is also medical dispensary set up at Azad Maidan. Doctors who spoke to CNN-News18, said farmers were suffering from blood pressure and diarrhea.
2. Shiv Sena plans to disrupt the State Assembly functioning: According to media reports, the Shiv Sena said they are not going to let the state Assembly function on Monday until the farmers’ demands are met.
3. Protesters reach Azad Maidan: The farmers arrived at Azad Maidan in Mumbai today around 5 am and plan to proceed to state assembly later in the day. Maharashta CM Devendra Fadnavis will address the Union around noon, according to media reports.
The government had earlier reached out to farmers, promising to meet their demands, but the protestors still press on voicing their demands in the Vidhan Bhavan, State Legislative Assmebly.
4. No roads closure or diversion yet: Speakinng to ANI, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar, said that no road closure or diversions has been implemented due to the ongoing farmer’s protest.
Contrary to the worries of the people of a possible traffic chaos, the Mumbai Police also tweeted that the traffic movements will remain normal just “like any other day” during the long march.
Click here to read → Farmers March to Mumbai