In a move that’s likely to hit markets across Maharashtra, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has asked farmers to stop sending milk and vegetables to urban areas from June 7 unless the government accepts its demands. The demands include a complete farm loan waiver, minimum support price for farm produce, implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission and the Forest Rights Act, among others.
Ashok Dhawale, president of the Kisan Sabha, said they have decided to stop the supply as the government has failed to respond to the crisis in the dairy and agricultural sector. “The government has failed to act on our demands. So, we carried out the farmers’ long march from Nashik to Mumbai. But the government hasn’t done anything in the last three months on our demands,” said Dhawale.
Ajit Nawale, state general secretary of AIKS, said despite the excess production of tur, sugar and milk, the state government was importing these commodities. “So, we will present the tur imported from Mozambique, sugar imported from Pakistan and milk imported from Gujarat and Karnataka to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on June 5,” said Nawale. He said if the government failed to act on their demands, “then we will urge the farmers to take matters into their own hands”. “… If the government still doesn’t act, then we will do rasta roko across the state on June 10,” he added.
AIKS members said they have urged the protesting dairy farmers not to spill milk on the road and, instead, to distribute it free-of-cost to underprivileged members of the society.
On the strike by the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh from Friday, the leaders clarified that they have extended their support to the strike since it was also on farmers’ issues. “While theirs is a strike, ours is a protest… we are carrying out a separate protest,” said Nawale.
Meanwhile, on the second day of the nation-wide farmers’ strike, milk collection in Pune fell by 10 per cent. Vishnu Hinge, chairman of the Pune Dairy Union, said they have noticed declining supplies from the talukas of Daund, Indapur and Ambegaon.
The situation in Kolhapur, however, seemed to be unaffected by the strike. Vishwas Patil, chairman of the Kolhapur Milk Union, said they have not faced any issues with procurement.
The Directorate of Marketing has set up a special cell to monitor the arrival of vegetables in the wholesale markets. Officials of the directorate said arrival of fresh produce has been close to normal. Directions have also been issued to market committees to ensure that they remain open for trading.
While supply of fresh produce remained largely normal on Friday, Rajendra Shelke, president of the Traders and Commission Agents’ Association of Vashi market, said arrivals had dipped slightly on Saturday.
Sandeep Gidde, one of the coordinators of the strike in Maharashtra, said it has received support from the Maratha Kranti Morcha, the Aam Aadmi Party and the NCP. “The protest is gathering momentum… many of the protesting farmer were taken into custody in Sangli, Sangamner and other parts of the state,” he said.
(With inputs from Mumbai ENS)