After deliberations with the government that lasted nearly six hours, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) decided to call off its march to Mumbai on Thursday evening. The AIKS leadership said it had received assurances from Maharashtra government that its demands would be met. It said that unlike last year, the government has agreed to hold a review meet every two months to monitor implementation of the promises.
The march, which was supposed to cover 40 km on its first day on Thursday, was called off after the farmers had walked 13 km.
“We do not want to cause discomfort to people. We had undertaken the march for our rights. Last year, too, the government had given assurances but it had not kept them. This time, they have said they will also set up a review committee, along with us, to see if the assurances are implemented,” CPM MLA J P Gavit announced after the meeting.
He said one of the main demands was to build dams and barrages across rivers that flow westward into the Arabian Sea and divert water to provide irrigation to farmers. Gavit said the government had also assured that Maharashtra’s share of water would not be diverted to any other state.
“They have also said they will give a presentation to our delegation to clear misconceptions about the water-sharing agreement with Gujarat. We will take a call on the further course of action after the presentation,” Gavit said.
Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, who was deputed to negotiate with the AIKS, said the government had agreed to all the demands of the farmers. “We have addressed all their concerns. We have requested them to withdraw the march so that poor farmers don’t have to walk for 200 km in this weather. They have obliged and we are thankful to them,” Mahajan said.
On the issue of implementation of Forest Rights Act, Mahajan said the speed of claims settlement in Nashik district, from where bulk of the 8,000 protesters had come, was swift with over 20,000 claims being settled in the past year. “We agree that the pace of claim settlements in other districts is not as quick. The government will try to ensure that claims are processed as quickly as possible,” Mahajan said.
The farmers are expected to disperse on Friday morning.
The meeting of AIKS leaders, Mahajan and Tourism Minister Jai Kumar Rawal continued for nearly six hours on Thursday. The negotiations had resumed after the first round of meetings on Wednesday night.
“They have agreed to most of the administrative nature of the proposals that we had put before them. However, they have not explained to us how they will work on the financial demands regarding certain policies. We are waiting for some concrete proposal and we may consider our next course of action after the government shows us the cards,” AIKS state general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale said on Thursday afternoon.