Nashik/Mumbai : Not impressed by the government’s announcement of a Rs 300/quintal subsidy for distressed onion cultivators, thousands of farmers started their footmarch from Nashik to Mumbai on Monday afternoon in support of their various demands.
The All India Kisan Sabha leader and seven-time ex-CPI(M) MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit said that after discussions with the various farmers groups, it was concluded that the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s proposal is “not acceptable” and the ‘long march’ will continue as scheduled.
“We have asked for Rs 600/quintal as immediate relief when onions are being sold at one or two rupees, and Rs 2000/quintal MSP from the next season. The government has offered only Rs 300/quintal now and no word on the MSP,” Gavit told IANS during the walkathon.
CPI(M) spokesperson P.S. Prasad said that the government’s assurance of Rs 300/quintal is “no relief” to the crisis-hit farmers who are now throwing away or burning their produce.
For the third time in five years, thousands of farmers are again on the road to Mumbai for their various demands that remain pending since long, braving the intense summer heat.
It has come after similar marches in 2018 and 2019 – and will traverse around 175 kms – attracting farmers from all over the state who converged in Nashik on Sunday.
Among the demands are an immediate subsidy of Rs 600/quintal and MSP of Rs 2000/quintal from next season for onion growers, writing off of farmers’ loans, suitable remuneration for all agriculture produce, power bills waivers, quick compensation for crop losses due to unseasonal rains-hail, forest land rights, etc.
Led by Gavit, the participants include ASHA workers, and representatives of the unorganised sectors, who wend their way waving the party flags and placards with slogans ‘Give MSP to Onion’, etc.
“Besides the subsidy and MSP, we demand that there should be bulk export of onion, it should be procured in bulk from NAFED at the MSP,” Gavit and other farmers leaders said.
The farmers have sought regularisation of encroachers on forest lands up to four hectares with names in the 7/12 documents, waiver of power bills and making electricity available 12 hours daily for farmlands, clear the 7/12 of farmers by waiving off their entire agriculture loans.
They have also demanded NDRF amount of compensation for all crop damages due to unseasonal rains and other natural calamities that hit the agriculturists round the year, quick compensation and curb the “loot” by crop insurance companies, create an independent system for regular inspection of milk meters and weighing forks for milk and a minimum price of Rs 47 for cow milk and Rs 67 for buffalo milk and stop the conspiracy to slash prices of soybean, cotton, tur and grams, re-start selling grain along with free rations on ration cards every month.
Earlier, in 2018, around 40,000 farmers had marched to Mumbai, and in 2019 they again walked down but the then government – facing an election year – had agreed to accept the peasants’ demands after which it was called off, and today the third ‘long march’ took off on the same route.