Maharashtra farmers demand higher prices, farm loan waivers, plan agitation from June 1

By: | Published: March 31, 2017 2:33 AM

Farmers in Maharashtra are planning an indefinite agitation from June 1 to seek the attention of the government to their issues and demand better prices for their farm produce.

Farmer groups are planning to hold ‘Gram Sabhas’ the first of which will be held in Punatambe village of Ahmednagar district on April 3

Farmers in Maharashtra are planning an indefinite agitation from June 1 to seek the attention of the government to their issues and demand better prices for their farm produce. Instead of tapping farmer organisations, farmer groups in Ahmednagar and Aurangabad regions have decided to come together and chalk out a plan to demand better prices for their produce.

These farmer groups are planning to hold ‘Gram Sabhas’ the first of which will be held in Punatambe village of Ahmednagar district on April 3 where farmer representatives from 50-60 villages in Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Yeola, Niphad and Nashik regions are expected to attend, Dhananjay Dhorde, one of the farmers who is part of the agitation told FE.

The action plan will be decided in this first Gram Sabha after which several Sabhas will be organised across different parts of Maharashtra to sensitise the farmers to the gravity of the current situation, he said.

“We have decided to give the government time till May 30 and if no positive action is taken, then the actual agitation shall begin at the start of the kharif season in June where farmers will produce only for their consumption and not for the sale. They also plan to stop supply of food grains, cereals, fruits and milk to markets. The farmers’ demands include loan waiver, free electricity, appropriate price for their produce, grant for irrigation and higher price for milk. The agitation will not involve any political party or leaders,” he said, adding this is a grassroots-level agitation and farmers will be tapped through the social media.

Tehsildars and district collectors of the respective districts will also be invited to be part of the Gram Sabhas and the memorandum copies will be submitted to them, Dhorde said. According to him, the government is not sensitive to the issues of farmers and therefore there is a need to draw the attention of the government to the problems of farmers. Farmers have not been getting good prices and are burdened by debt, leading to farmer suicides, he said.

Farmers in Maharashtra have faced two consecutive droughts and the recent unseasonal showers have damaged yield in parts of Marathwada. With 3,030 cases, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of farmer suicides in the country (37.8%).

Significantly, the Opposition parties in the state have become aggressive on the loan waiver issue. All opposition parties will participate in the Sangharsh Yatra.

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Led by the main Opposition parties, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the march will start at Chandrapur, the home town of Maharashtra finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar in Vidarbha, and end at Panvel near Mumbai on April 4. Vidarbha and Marathwada regions are the epicentre of the agrarian crisis in Maharashtra. The marchers will pass through 16 districts spread over Vidarbha, Marathwada, south-central Maharashtra and western Maharashtra.

Along the route, the Opposition parties will meet farmers and “point out to them the double standards (on farm loan waiver) being practised by the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra”, said leader of the opposition in the legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.

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