The maximum city was again brought to its knees, this time not by any protesting community but by distressed Maharashtra farmers. Though they didn’t jeopardise peace of Mumbai, but did give a wake-up call to Mumbaikars on rising problems of farmers. Farmers are the real backbone of the country, and India ranks second worldwide in farm output. As per the Economic Survey, the sector’s share in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 17.4 in 2015-16.
So why are Maharashtra farmers distressed? Well it’s not just rains adding to misery, but the state government also has an equal share in adding to the apathetic state of farmers in state. Around 30,000 farmers, under All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), started their “long march” protest in Nashik on March 6th. They, on Monday, reached Mumbai’s Azad Maidan after walking with blistered feet for about 180 km in the sun.
With drought for four consecutive years, farmers from Marathwada and Vidharba region went to state for helping hand and demanded waiving off their loans. The BJP-led Maharashtra government was forced to budge under pressure from farmer’s group and Opposition, CM Devendra Fadnavis announced the historic loan waiver in June 2017 under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana. At the time of the announcement, the chief minister had claimed that Rs 34,020 crores would be allocated for the scheme. But, not all farmers were eligible for full loan waiver. As of March 6, Rs 13,782 crore have been handed out as loan waivers to 35.68 lakh farmers, according to reports. While farmers lashed out against the delay in implementing the loan waiver scheme and the many conditions placed on the beneficiaries, the Opposition too criticised the Fadnavis-led BJP government over the issue.
Apart from loan waiver, the farmers also demanded that electricity bills are waived, proper minimum support price for their produce is fixed, the rights of Tribal cultivators over forest land is recognised by implementing the Forest Rights Act. The list of demands also seeks implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
This was something the State government could have done while sitting in their niche offices, but they did nothing and farmers, just to bring forth the agrarian crisis currently on in the country, decided to hold silent protest by walking for 170-odd kms.
The BJP-led Centre government always have backed farmers as the backbone of Indian economy–which is true– but the reality is farmers are ignored every time. The farmers, who cultivate food grains or vegetables, which are the daily necessity of every human being are in distress. And, yesterday’s protest march has opened eyes of many citizens of the country. While the farmers were protesting, every political party came out in support of farmers, but where were they when those political parties were in power? Congress-NCP — the agrarian crisis was still there during your tenure.
No matter how rich or developed the country becomes, still agrarian crisis is one of the key issues which comes up every time, no matter which political party is in power.