A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde told the state Assembly that he had held discussions with a farmers’ delegation over their demands, thousands of farmers marching from Nashik to Mumbai have decided to call off their agitation. CPI leader and former MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit, who is leading the 200-km ‘long march’, announced the decision today.
Mr Gavit said the state government has taken immediate steps to fulfil its promises, with District Collectors visiting Nashik and several other places.
“We feared that the government will just give assurances, and not act on them. However, now that they have started taking appropriate action, we have decided to withdraw our agitation. All the farmers are returning home,” he said.
Mr Shinde said he has discussed 14 points, including forest rights, encroachment of forest land, transfer of land belonging to temple trusts and grazing grounds to cultivators for farming, with the farmers’ delegation.
Appealing to the farmers to withdraw their long march, Mr Shinde had said the decisions taken will be implemented immediately.
Onion growers, facing losses due to low prices of the commodity and damage to crops by unseasonal rains, would be given Rs 350 per quintal as financial relief, he said.
Farmers had demanded Rs 600 per quintal relief to onion farmers, 12-hour uninterrupted power supply to farmers, and waiver of farm loans. Onion farmers in Maharashtra have been hit hard by a steep fall in prices. Chief Minister Shinde has said high production has led to this situation.
The farmers also wanted steps to arrest a slide in the prices of soybean, cotton, and tur, and immediate relief to farmers affected by recent unseasonal rains and other natural calamities.
Those in the procession are also demanding implementation of the Old Pension Scheme for state government employees who have joined service post-2005.
The march was organised by the CPM and besides farmers, many workers in the unorganised sector, such as ASHA workers, and members of tribal communities participated in it.
This march was similar to the 2018 ‘Kisan Long March’ from Nashik to Mumbai, also organised by the Left parties. They had demanded a loan waiver and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers tilling it for years, and then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had accepted it.