Mumbai: More than 30,00’0 farmers are planning a massive protest outside Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha and are marching from Nashik towards Mumbai to demand for a complete loan waiver from the state government.
Expected to reach Mumbai on Sunday (March 12), the farmers are reportedly unhappy with the state government’s agricultural policies and a complete write-off of their loans is one of the most important of their demands which also includes assurances against forced seizure of farmlands, waiver of electricity bills, etc.
The farmers began their march from Nashik last Tuesday from Central Nashik’s CBS chowk and will walk 180 kilometers on the Mumbai-Agra National Highway. On Friday, the large contingent – led by All India Kisan Sabha National President Ashok Davle, local MLA J P Gavit and other leaders – reached Thane. Davle has claimed that 1,753 farmers have killed themselves since June last year when the BJP-led state government announced a conditional farm loan waiver of Rs 34,000 crore.
Accusing the BJP government of having betrayed farmers, Davle said promises made have remained unfulfilled. He is also demanding transfer of forest land to those who have been tilling it for years and an increase in the compensation for peasants whose crops were damaged in the recent hailstorms and pink bollworm infestation. According to state government figures, 2.93 lakh farmers and 83 per cent land under cotton cultivation has been affected. Maharashtra’s Agriculture Minister has said the state has already sought Rs 2,425 crore assistance package from the Centre.
Earlier, Co-operation Minister Subhash Deshmukh had said 77.29 lakh farmers across the state had applied for loan waiver, out of which applications of 55 lakh farmers, for waiver of loans totalling Rs 13,782 crore, were approved.