Maharashtra farmers protest for drought relief, farm loan waiver in Mumbai; CM Devendra Fadnavis to hear demands in evening

Demanding compensation for drought and the transfer of forest rights to tribals, over 20,000 farmers and tribals reached Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Thursday. The farmers began a two-day march from Thane to Mumbai on Wednesday, eight months after a similar protest which started from Nashik.

Magsaysay award winner Dr Rajendra Singh, also known as Waterman of India, is among the protesters. They started walking Wednesday afternoon towards Somaiyya Ground in Mumbai's Sion area where they halted for the night. The participants are mostly from Thane, Bhusawal, and Marathwada regions, he said.

 Maharashtra farmers protest for drought relief, farm loan waiver in Mumbai; CM Devendra Fadnavis to hear demands in evening

The farmers at Azad Maidan. ANI

The protesters, who reached Azad Maidan in South Mumbai early on Thursday, are likely to hold a demonstration near Vidhan Bhawan, where the Winter Session of the state Assembly is underway, a leader of the march said. They are also scheduled to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis later in the evening with whom they are likely to take up the issue of the implementation of Forests Rights Act (FRA).

The chief minister said that he will meet the protesting farmers and hear their demands, reported Times of India. "We have done everything to resolve the pending applications under the FRA. Some application are left, but those too are being resolved," said Fadnavis.

The farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, which suggested that farmers must have assured access and control over resources such as land and water, resolving of pending claims under the FRA. They are also demanding an increase in the Minimum Support Price and a judicial system to ensure its implementation.

The farmers, struggling to cope with the agrarian crisis, are demanding proper implementation of the loan waiver package announced by the BJP-led government in the state last year, land rights for farmers and compensation for farm labourers.

"We have been consistently asking the state government to fulfil our long-standing demands but the response has been lukewarm. We are forced to launch this agitation," said Pratibha Shinde, general secretary of Lok Sangharsh Morcha, which is organising the protest. "We are taking maximum care to ensure that Mumbai citizens are not inconvenienced," Shinde said.

The Mumbai Police also issued an advisory listing out the areas where traffic is likely to be affected.

In March, thousands of farmers, led by the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha, took out a 180-kilometre long march from Nashik to Mumbai in March to press for their demands. That protest saw a sea of red, formed by farmers in red caps, converge in Mumbai from across Maharashtra.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 22, 2018 12:43:50 IST