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Farmers call off strike after Maharashtra govt accepts their demands in 'writing'

Monday March 12, 2018 11:43 PM, News Network

Fadnavis meeting farmers

Mumbai: Over 50,000 farmers who were camping at Azad Maidan where they reached walking from Nashik decided to call off their protest on Monday after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis agreed to most of their demands.

“We have accepted most of their demands and have given them a written letter,” Fadnavis said after meeting a delegation of agitating farmers who walked 180 kms as part of their Paidal March from Nashik to Mumbai.

The Maharashtra government has also decided to table a bill in the monsoon session of the State Legislative Assembly, which will assure minimum price for agricultural products. If traders offer lower price below minimum price then it will be considered as a criminal act. The Maharashtra Government has also agreed to revise milk prices and appoint an independent observer for dairy business to help farmers. The decision to hike milk prices would be taken by June 20. The Government has also agreed to waive off penalty and interest on pending power bills and also look to set up more cold storages and agro-processing units in the state.

The Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha or AIKS, which spearheaded the farmers' Paidal March, wants the implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission that mandates farmers to be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production and the Minimum Support Price be fixed for their produce.

The adivasis or tribal cultivators, who joined the march in huge numbers, want the land they have been tilling for years to be transferred to their names and implementation of the Forest Rights Act, which they say will benefit them.

The farmers want the state government to stop forceful acquisition of farm lands for projects such as super highways and bullet trains. Inter-linking of rivers and to discontinue sharing of waters with Gujarat was another concern that they wanted to discuss. They also want a compensation of Rs. 40,000 per acre for farmers whose crops were hit by hailstorm and pink bollworm.

The Paidal March of the farmers, who were accompanied by a large number of women and children, came at a time when a billionaire like Nirav Modi had fled the country by looting banks of around Rs 12,600 crore in the form of unpaid loans. The farmers and their supporters say that when the country's agricultural sector is facing a massive crisis due to drought, suicides of farmers, rising debt of farmers and failure to get minimum support price (MSP), among others, the farmers deserve full waiver of loans.

"Why not? When the government can waive off the loans of businessmen and corporate, why not ours? It is the farmers who voted for you in large numbers, not the industrialists", the agitating farmers had recently told BJP President Amit Shah.

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