Farmers’ groups have announced three major protests in the first fortnight of November to register their displeasure over the state’s loan waiver scheme and what they say is the government’s inability to make fundamental changes in the functioning of the agricultural sector. The coordination committee of agitating farmers, which met in Mumbai Tuesday, has decided that farmers will agitate from November 1 against electricity suppliers who have been disconnecting services of farmers to make them clear pending dues.
“The MSEB has been granted a funding of nearly Rs 20,000 crore to ensure that farmers in the state get 16 hours of supply. In reality, farmers get only eight hours of power. It is actually the electricity companies which owe farmers money for not keeping their side of the bargain. Whoever cuts the connections of farmers, we will ensure that from November 1 their offices get locked by farmers as well,” said farmer leader Raghunath Dada Patil, who is a member of the coordination committee.
Farmers will also hold a protest on November 8 to mark one year of demonetisation, which the committee claimed had harmed farmers the most.
On November 10, farmers’ groups will protest outside government offices against the state’s failure to announce a complete loan waiver and ensure minimum support price for all agriculture produce.
“The MSP of soybean was set at Rs 3,050 per quintal. However, due to overproduction, farmers have been forced to sell it for as low as Rs 1,900 to Rs 2,000 (per quintal). The government plans to buy 1 lakh tonnes but that is only 3 per cent of the total production this year. Because of the state’s lethargy in addressing these issues, we will dump all these agricultural produce outside the government offices on November 10,” said Dr Ajit Nawle, convenor of the coordination committee.
Nawle claimed that the loan waiver scheme announced by the state government was an eyewash and of the initial 89 lakh farmers the state had whittled down the list of beneficiaries to 8.5 lakh. By stipulating conditions, he said, the government would whittle down the list of beneficiaries further to avoid giving relief to farmers.
Besides a complete loan waiver, farmers in Maharashtra have also been seeking fundamental changes in the functioning of the agricultural sector and agitating over it for the last four months. They had first gone on a strike on June 11 for 11 days.
The initial agitation had forced the state government to come out with the loan waiver scheme. To placate farmers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had declared that the government’s farm loan waiver scheme would benefit 89 lakh farmers, costing Rs 34,022 crore to the exchequer. The government had limited its waiver amount to Rs 1.5 lakh per farmer, which is being opposed by the farmers. The agitating group is also seeking a minimum support price for agriculture produce.