Puntamba broke into celebrations soon after the state government accepted in principle the demand for a complete loan waiver for farmers in the state. Villagers who were glued to their television sets burst crackers and distributed sweets soon after the news started flashing on their screens.
The movement for farmers’ strike had originated in this village in Rahata taluka of Ahmednagar district where the gram sabha had started a resolution calling a strike in case the state government failed to meet their charter of demands. Complete loan waiver for farmers had topped the list and farmers had rejected the state government’s earlier loan waiver of Rs 30,000 crore for small and medium farmers.
Increase in milk prices, implementation of MS Swaminathan Committee’s recommendations ensuring crop realisation at least 50 per cent above production cost, 100 per cent subsidy on drip and sprinkler irrigation were some of the other demands. Farmers in Maharashtra had gone on an unprecedented strike for seven days from June 1, to press for their demands.
On Sunday, the ministerial group set up by the chief minister met the coordination committee to discuss the matter where the decision for a complete loan waiver was made. The state government has agreed to the demand irrespective of the landholding criterion and a special committee would be set up to discuss the modalities for the waiver. Also, procurement price of milk will be increased by June 20 and the chief minister will be leading a delegation to discuss implementation of the Swaminathan Committee’s recommendations.
Reacting to the news, Dr Dhananjay Dhanvate, a resident of Puntamba, said the unity among farmers made the government bow before them. “Farmers had sustained losses yet continued with the strike. The message was strong enough for the government to heed,” he said. While the movement had started in Puntamba, the earlier core committee which included Dhananjay Jadhav of Puntamba had called off the strike on June 3 post discussion with the state government. However, farmers in the state had refused to call off their strike and a new coordination committee, which included Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana MP Raju Shetti, MLA Bacchu Kadu and others, was formed and it struck the deal Sunday.
Dhanvate said their village had started the movement with good intent and thus the end was achieved. Meanwhile, Sandeep Gidde, member of the previous committee, said there was nothing new in the government’s declaration Sunday. “The government had announced the loan waiver on June 3 itself and the decision to increase the price of milk was taken back then. The strike was prolonged by some leaders who wanted to earn credit,” he said.