LEADERS of the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha under whose aegis several thousand farmers are agitating in Nashik said on Wednesday that while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had not made a concrete assurance on a total farm loan waiver, he had offered to make a proposal regarding loan waiver to the Central government.
A delegation of Kisan Sabha leaders met Fadnavis on Wednesday evening at the Vidhan Bhavan where they were invited for discussions after over 30,000 farmers from across the state gathered in Nashik on Tuesday and blocked the city’s main square through Wednesday. The demands included total loan waiver for farmers, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations on minimum support price for farm goods, and land rights for traditional cultivators of government or forest land.
At a press conference after the meeting in Vidhan Bhavan, the All India Kisan Sabha Joint Secretary Dr Ajit Navle said Fadnavis did not give them any concrete assurance regarding a loan waiver. Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit, a member of the delegation, said they requested the chief minister to ask for Central assistance for a farm loan waiver. “The CM assured that he would convene a special meeting to discuss our charter of demands in detail after the assembly session,” said Gavit.
One big assurance that the delegation returned with pertained to cultivators of forest land. While the law allows granting of land rights to traditional cultivators of such land, the protesting groups have said an overwhelming majority of claims made by adivasi and non-adivasi cultivators of forest land have been rejected. “The chief minister promised that collectors of districts where such lands are being tilled will be directed to re-examine all claims within three months. As per law, only two proofs are required for such land rights to be granted and the CM said this will be followed,” said Dr Ashok Dhawle of the All India Kisan Sabha.
Narasayya Adam, a CPI (M) leader and former MLA, said this would benefit seven to eight lakh cultivators immediately.
On their demand for land rights for those tilling land owned by temple trusts, Fadnavis reportedly promised a survey of such land and said he would study what steps could be taken within the framework of law. Fadnavis reportedly reiterated that there will be a 100 per cent waiver of electricity bills of farmers in drought-hit areas and a 30 per cent waiver in areas not declared drought-hit.
“On the issue of west-flowing rivers, the CM said he will personally visit these areas and see that Maharashtra’s water is retained in the state,” Dr Dhawle said. The protesters have demanded that water from these rivers be lifted only for Nashik, Thane, Palghar, etc, and the excess be diverted to Marathwada.
The Kisan Sabha is expected to announce at least a partial rollback of the agitation that saw over 35,000 farmers gather in Nashik on Tuesday.
Conceding that the protesters might have to take a “backward step or two”, Dr Navle said that the fight won’t stop till loan waiver demand is met. Gavit said a positive discussion also took place on relief and alternate employment measures in drought-hit regions.