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Farmers call off stir as Maha govt meets 2 of their 9 demands
From the Web Desk, 13/03/2018, New Delhi


The farmers’ march that began a week ago from Nashik  and culminated in Mumbai was called off on Monday after the state government gave specific commitments on two of the protestors’ nine demands and assured in writing the rest would be looked into by committees it would constitute.
However, after a four-hour meeting with the cultivators’ 15-member delegation, the government remained non-committal on seven demands.

CPM’s farmer wing, the Kisan Sabha, that organized the march — the Communists’ first show of strength in Maharashtra in a long time — had asked for an unconditional loan waiver, transfer of forest land in the name of landless tribals, and a committee for agricultural pricing and compensation for the pink bollworm attack, which affected 35 lakh cotton farmers. “We have agreed to most of the demands raised by farmers and tribals. Their main demand was for transfer of forest land in their names. We have constituted a special team to complete the process in six months,” CM Devendra Fadnavis said. “An important decision we have taken is to extend the loan waiver scheme to cover the 2001 to 2009 period as many farmers (affected during this time) didn’t get any benefit in the waiver announced in 2008,” he added. The second promise is to include term loans under the waiver scheme.

Apart from a blanket waiver, the protestors had sought changes to its criteria, saying each family member must be considered a separate applicant. “The CM has decided to see how much of a financial burden this will be on the government and then a decision will be taken,” said the written reply given to the protestors, adding a committee of government and Kisan Sabha representative will arrive at a decision in the next 1.5 months. The state assured famers that land would not be acquired without consent for projects, including the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi expressway and the bullet train.

While Mumbai police said 15,000 farmers and tribals participated in the 180 km march, organisers pegged the figure at 40,000. Farmer discontent has been a challenge for the Fadnavis government, with mass protests culminating in the loan waiver last June. Most cultivators who marched were Adivasis from the Nashik belt. A majority of the Adivasis work on forest land were not granted ownership rights under the Forest Rights Act.



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