After Long March, Maharashtra Farmers to Continue Protest Until Govt Implements Promises

While the chief minister agreed to several of the farmers' demands, the protestors are being cautious until the decisions are actually implemented.

Mumbai: Thousands of farmers began to walk together from Dhindori in the Nashik district six days ago. These farmers, mostly belonging to the tribal community, were on their way to Mumbai, 180 km away from their hometown.

During this walk, the farmers met government representatives a few times. Even as the state has agreed to increase the per quintal subsidy to onion farmers and set up a special committee for effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act in the state, the farmers won’t be calling their protest off yet. Instead, the marching farmers have decided to now stay put in Vasind, a small town in Shahpur taluka in Thane district, till the government actually implements these demands.

The farmers’ long march is organised by the CPI(M)’s All India Kisan Samiti (AIKS). Former MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit, along with AIKS leader and politburo members Ashok Dhawale and Ajit Navale, are leading the march. A similar march, with just as many farmers from Dhindori, had been organised in 2018. The farmers had then walked into Mumbai with similar demands but even after their march and talks with the government, their demands were not met.

Gavit, Dhawale and Navale will now be a part of the committee to be set up to implement the FRA in the state.

On Thursday, farmers’ representatives met chief minister Eknath Shinde at Mantralaya in South Mumbai. After the discussion, it was decided that the government will increase the per quintal subsidy for onion farmers, some of the most impacted ones from the Nashik region, along with FRA implementation in the state. The farmers have demanded a Rs 600 per quintal subsidy for onion farmers. Earlier, this had been increased to Rs 300 per quintal. But after the talks on Thursday, it was decided that the amount will be increased further.

Farmers representatives meeting Eknath Shinde on Thursday. Photo: Twitter/@mahakisansabha

The farmers’ 17-point charter also included demands for 12-hour power supply for agriculture, along with compensation for those affected by natural calamities.

Among another demand accepted by the government is a loan waiver to 88,000 farmers who could not apply for the loan waiver scheme ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana’, announced in 2018 by then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Shinde announced that his government has agreed to the demands and related announcements will be made in the assembly on Friday, March 17. Although positive about the way the talks went, the farmers’ representatives are being cautious. Saying that accepting demands and actually implementing them are two different things, the farmers have decided to stay put on the outskirts of Mumbai until at least March 20, hoping they receive information about their demands being tabled in the assembly.