Mumbai, February 22 : Thousands of farmers who started the Kisan Long March from Nasik to Mumbai with their 15-point charter of demands have now called off their protest after the Maharashtra government gave in written that they have accepted all the demands to the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). The government’s decision came after Nasik’s nodal minister Girish Mahajan and Maharashtra’s tourism minister JaykumarRawal held six hour-long deliberations with AIKS leaders Ashok Dhawale, AjitNavale and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI[M]) MLA JivaGavit in Nasik on Thursday, February 21.
The most important demand of this march was related to irrigation projects in North Maharashtra and Marathwada regions of the state. The water in the western flowing rivers goes directly to the Arabian Sea. The AIKS has demanded to build irrigation projects in North Maharashtra and divert that water to the drought-hit areas of Maharashtra. The state government has assured that the projects in North Maharashtra and Marathwada will come up under ‘Maharashtra Ekatmik Jal Arakhada’ (A uniform irrigation plan by the state government).
Another important demand was related to the clearing of land titles on forest land. The AIKS has asked to give a minimum of one-acre land to farmers who have been farming on forest lands for decades. It should be noted that in the earlier discussions on this issue, just 4 to 6 guntha (40 guntha = 1 acre) land parcel had been cleared by the government. Now, the ministers have given in written that minimum one acre land will be granted to every farmer. This will give relief to farmers in entire Maharashtra.
On the demand of loan waiver, the government reiterated that the ChhatrapatiShivajiMaharajShetkariSanmanYojana (loan waiver scheme announced by state government on June 30, 2017) won’t be stopped until every farmer gets its benefit. Government also said that the farmers who had taken loan in the financial year 2016-17 will also be included in the scheme.
The different cash transfer schemes like Sanjay Gandhi NiradharYojana, Indira Gandhi VruddhapkalYojana (scheme for citizens above 65 years) and others will see an increase in amount now. This was also one of the major demands made by AIKS. There was a limit of income till Rs. 21,000 for these schemes. The government has now assured to consider the proposal to increase the annual income limit to Rs. 50,000.
Another important land title clearance issue was that of temple lands being cultivated by farmers. On that, the government has informed the AIKS that the study group to discuss the report made by revenue minister over the claims of temple land will soon be out. The state government will come up with the bill in the monsoon session of assembly for this.
AIKS had also raised the issue of forceful acquisition of lands for projects like Bullet Train and SamriddhiMahamarg (Mumbai Nagpur six lane super express way). To this, the state government has assured that no land will be snatched for these projects.
This Kisan Long March was the second one called by the AIKS with the same demands. Earlier in 2018, farmers had walked over seven days from Nasik to Mumbai, covering a distance of 180 kms. The state government had been trying to persuade the AIKS leaders from day 1 to not start march.
As last year’s march had brought the plight of farmers before the nation and generated sympathy from all corners, this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government resorted to a number of measures to prevent the farmers from marching. Thousands of farmers were reportedly stopped by creating number of obstacles in Ahmednagar, Thane, Palghar, Nasik, Dhule and Jalgaon area on February 19 and 20, yet, the farmers managed to reach Nasik and begin the march.
As a result, the government machinery was forced to rush to clear the demands on February 20. Sources confirmed that Minister Girish Mahajan spoke to Chief Minister DevendraFadnavis on phone in the night of February 20. He also held deliberations with AIKS leaders over almost six hours on February 21, finally leading to the written assurance that all their demands will be accepted.
From NEWS click