Shortage of vegetables and spike in its prices looms over the people of Mumbai as farmers in Maharashtra continued their stir for various demands on the second consecutive day today. According to sources in Navi Mumbai Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), though milk supply to the state capital largely remained unaffected, the number of vehicles transporting vegetables went down in fear of backlash from farmers. Yesterday, the agitating farmers had tried to disrupt vegetable and milk supply to the metropolis.
On an average, every day 7,000 tonnes of vegetables reach Navi Mumbai APMC, the main supplier to Mumbai. Some incidents of stopping of vehicles carrying milk and vegetables were reported in Nashik district today. Farmers from many parts of Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik districts have joined the agitation which is mainly spearheaded by activists, though parties like Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, an ally of the ruling BJP, have extended moral support to the stir.
The demands raised by agitating farmers include waiving farm loans and ensuring a guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) for their produce. Farmers in Nashik district are opposing acquisition of land for the proposed Super Communication Expressway which will connect Mumbai and Nagpur. According to sources, Mumbaikars may start feeling the pinch due to shortage of vegetables in a day or two while vendors in the suburbs and in Navi Mumbai have already hiked the prices. According to sources, many operators refused to transport vegetables to Mumbai fearing protests by farmers while in Nashik district, all the 15 APMC markets remained shut today as no farmers turned up to sell their produce.
People in Nashik city and the district faced hardships due to shortage of vegetables while most milk kiosks also remained closed. Farmers blocked parts of Mumbai-Agra highway near Nashik. They also tried to stop vehicles carrying vegetables to Pune and Gujarat, police said. The agitators also stopped a milk tanker headed towards Gujarat from Nashik at Siddha Pimpri village late last night and emptied it on the road. Meanwhile, the curfew imposed in Yeola town, around 70 km from Nashik, remained in force on the second day as well even as the situation was under control since this morning and no untoward incident has been reported so far, police said.
The curfew was imposed yesterday after 14 policemen were injured in stone pelting and police resorted to firing in the air. So far, 50 people have been detained, including some farmers, for their alleged role in yesterday’s incidents of stone pelting and ransacking of trucks carrying vegetables and fruits. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday had accused the opposition NCP and the Congress of instigating farmers while expressing willingness to hold talks with the agitators. A committee has been set up which will suggest measures to resolve farmers’ issues, he had said. On Wednesday night, protesters in Satara, Kolhapur and Nashik districts tried to disrupt supply of vegetables and milk to Mumbai.