Mumbai: The farmers’ protest march has brought the State Govt on its knees. On Monday, clearly rattled by the agitation, the State Government gave an assurance to the farmers in writing that the demand for ownership rights to forest patches would be addressed within six months. These forest patches are mostly cultivated by tribals.
In fast paced developments, the agitation leaders, too, wasted no time in withdrawing their agitation; apparently they have been placated for some time. It is understood that they had threatened to go on a hunger fast if the assurance was not given to them in writing.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, too, used his persuasive skills to the hilt in talking the tribal farmers into withdrawing their agitation. Chandrakant Patil, minister for revenue, later read out the charter of demands, which had been accepted by the government, to the agitating farmers camping at Azad Maidan. The Fadnavis government has also announced the establishment of a committee which will review the progress taken in this regard once every two months.
The Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha or AIKS, which spearheaded the march, also wants the implementation of recommendations of the Swamina-than Commission that mandates farmers be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production. The farmers were also demanding an unconditional loan waiver scheme after some of them failed to qualify for any financial relief under the Maharashtra government’s initiative last year.
After the meeting between Fadnavis and leaders of Kisan Sabha, Vishnu Savra, Minister for Tribal Welfare, stated that the government has already implemented 50 percent of the demands made of the tribals under the provisions of the Forest Rights Act. He said the remaining claims, pending since 2006, will be settled within six months. On the issue of giving ownership rights of forest patches to tribals cultivating them, the minister said the issue shall be resolved within two months.
All claims declared invalid will be re-examined and a special team would be set up for this task. Fadnavis also assured that the government shall within six months take a positive decision on giving grants under the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and Shravanbal Yojana for which committees will be set up within 15 days.
On the demand that they be paid remuneration that was one-and-a-half times the cost of production, Fadnavis said, “The issue falls in the domain of the Centre.” As regards the demand for a complete loan waiver, Fadnavis claimed that 80 per cent of the farmers have already availed of the benefit of the scheme. He promised that the government will do something for those as well who have been left out of the loan waiver scheme.