Nashik: Around 25,000 farmers today set out for Mumbai from Nashik in northern Maharashtra as part of a “long march” protest organised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) for a complete loan waiver and other demands. The farmers from districts of Thane and Palghar on way to Mumbai are expected to join the march later. Addressing a huge gathering of farmers at the CBS chowk in central Nashik this evening, farmer leaders announced they would ‘gherao’ the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha in Mumbai, a distance of 180 kms from Nashik, for resolution of their issues.
Agriculturists have been demanding a complete waiver of loans and electricity bills apart from implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. “We also want the state government to refrain from forceful acquisition of farm lands in the name of development projects like Super Highway and Bullet Train,” AIKS Secretary Raju Desle said while addresing the farmers.
He said a total of 25,000 farmers started for Mumbai this evening. Desle claimed as many as 1,753 farmers have killed themselves since June last when the BJP-led state government announced a conditional farm loan waiver of Rs 34,000 crore.
The government had announced the waiver following unprecedented protests by farmers in various parts of the state. He accused the Centre and the state government of adopting “anti-farmer” policies. AIKS national president Ashok Dhavle, local MLA J P Gavit and other leaders are leading the long march, which will culminate in Mumbai on March 12.
AIKS national president Ashok Dhawle yesterday said the BJP government had betrayed the farmers by not honouring the assurances given to them. “We will demand a complete change in the river linking scheme proposed to be implemented in Nashik, Thane and Palghar districts, so as to ensure that tribal villages are not submerged and water is made available to these districts and to other drought-prone districts,” he said.
Farmers are also demanding the transfer of forest land to those who have been tilling it for years and increase in the compensation for peasants whose crops were damaged in recent hailstorms and pink bollworm infestation.