Maharashtra Farmers All Set to Gherao District Headquarters on 1 June
May 22, 2018
Courtesy: News Click
The statewide protest follows the BJP government’s failure to meet the demands of farmers as well as to commemorate one year of the historic 11-day strike by farmers in Maharashtra.
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the farmers’ organisation which led the historic Kisan Long March from Nashik to Mumbai in March, will launch another statewide protest in Maharashtra on 1 June over the long-pending demands of distressed farmers.
“Farmers across the state, under the banner of AIKS, will gherao all the district headquarters and taluka centres on 1 June to press their demands,” said Ajit Navale, state secretary of AIKS, speaking to Newsclick.
Commemorating one year of the 11-day strike by Maharashtra farmers’ that began on 1 June 2017, the farmers will again raise their demands. The Kisan Long March also put forward the same set of demands, but they are yet to be implemented, Navale added.
The charter of demands includes the unconditional waiver of farm loans and electricity bills, minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural produce and dairy products as per recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Commission, implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, and pension for farmers and agricultural workers.
“We also oppose the import of toor dal(yellow lentils) from outside. Currently, 1.5 lakh tonne of dal is being imported,” Navale said, summing up the main demands of farmers.
The farmers from Vidarbha region, which witnesses a high rate of farmer suicides, are invested in the cultivation of toor dal. So importing dal will adversely affect the price of dalin the local market and it will deepen the existing crisis, he said.
On 1 June 2017, farmers across Maharashtra had launched a strike, cutting the supplies of vegetables, fruits, milk and other agricultural produce from farms to mandis.
Following the 11-day protest, the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government had been forced to accept the demands of farmers and declared a Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme with a cap of Rs 1.5 lakh per account. However, a majority of the farmers are yet to receive the loan waiver.
“The cabinet decision was taken to waive all the loans from 2001 to 2017. While implementing the scheme, the government gave the nod for farmers to avail the loans from 2001 to 2009,” said Ashok Dhawale, national president of AIKS.
Following the unfulfilled promises, farmers launched the historic 7-day long-march this March.
More than 50,000 farmers and tribals under the banner of AIKS marched over 180km from Nashik to Mumbai. Though the government assured the representatives of farmers and tribals that all demands would be met, most of the demands have not been fulfilled.
During the Kisan Long March, the government sought one and half months of time to implement the demands of the farmers. However, yet again the government failed to deliver to the farmers.
The dairy farmers across the state launched a unique, week-long protest from 3 to 9 May by distributing milk free of cost in the district and taluka headquarters.
The dairy farmers, who are in deep distress due to the insufficient price of dairy products, will join the 1 June protest. The condition of the dairy farmers is similar to that of farmers. Though the government had fixed the procurement price of milk at Rs 27 per litre in June 2017, most of the dairies are collecting milk at the rate of Rs 17 per litre, which results in the loss of Rs 10 per litre to the farmers.
After the dairy farmers’ week-long protest, the government had declared a hike in subsidy of Rs 3 per litre to milk cooperatives in the organised sector, which process milk into milk powder. However, Dhawale pointed out that the hike is not enough to meet the demands of farmers.
“After the gherao, farmers will march to the residence of the minister of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development on 5 June, and will hold a sit-in protest until their demands are heeded,” said Navale.