MUMBAI: The massive protest march by 30,000 farmers against the failure of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government to address agrarian distress has reached Anand Nagar in Thane. The group is expected to reach the outskirts of Mumbai today and will knock the doors of the assembly on Monday to stress on their demands.
The march, led by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) -- a peasants front of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) - was launched from Nashik on Tuesday. The 180-km long foot march which began with the participation of about 12,000 farmers, has gathered the support of 30,000 people now, AIKS has claimed. A complete loan waiver is one of the main demands of these farmers.
They will be protesting outside the legislative assembly in Mumbai on March 12, seeking answers from the government for their demands. They have been claiming that the government has not acted on the promises that were made to them.
"Farmers in the state are reeling under the ripples of agrarian distress and they are under huge financial burden. The government has not done anything to provide them any relief. So they are left with no option but to express their anguish through the protest march," Ajit Nawale, state general secretary of AIKS, said.
Stressing on the level of discontent among the farmers, Nawale said that the number of protesters will go up to 55,000- 60,000 figure when it will reach the destination.
Apart from a complete loan waiver, the farmers are demanding a profit of 1.5 times input cost for all major agriculture commodities and want immediate implementation of MS Swaminathan committee's recommendations to ensure fair remuneration.
The farmers are also demanding compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for the destruction of crops due to hailstorm and pink-worm, allocation of forest land under cultivation to farmers and implementation of Forest Rights Act.
While the organisers have said they would try to reach the assembly in peaceful manner, the government is likely to stop the protest march at Azad Maidan.
In June 2017, similar protests had boiled over most parts of the state, forcing the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led government to announce a conditional Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver, which farmers claim has not been implemented properly.
Similar demands of loan waiver and 50 per cent profit over the input cost have been made by farmers across the country, putting the BJP-led central government in a fix.
BJP is not just facing flak from the opposition but its estranged ally Shiv Sena has also extended its support to the protesting farmers.