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Fresh farmers’ stir in Maharashtra today

LiveMint logoLiveMint 13-08-2017 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Mumbai: The steering committee of farmers’ organizations has called for a “road blockade” across Maharashtra on 14 August to demand a blanket farm loan waiver. Committee members told reporters that the district guardian ministers in Maharashtra would not be allowed to hoist the national flag on 15 August since they were part of the government that has denied a blanket loan waiver. Ajit Navle, convener of the committee and Maharashtra state secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, said farmers themselves would hoist the flag in all districts of the state. “We will continue the agitation till the government grants a blanket loan waiver,” Navle said.

The steering committee comprises representatives from several farmers’ organizations and it spearheaded the agrarian protests in Maharashtra in June this year. In June following protests, the Maharashtra government announced a Rs34,022 crore farm loan waiver with riders. The protest boiled over in most parts of the state but a section of the committee, which expressed dissatisfaction over the partial loan waiver, has continued the agitation.

Raghunath Pati, president of Shetkari Sanghatana in Maharashtra, said farmers have been forced to hit the streets again. “Right from day one, we have been demanding a blanket loan waiver and increase in minimum support prices for farm produce following the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. These are two key demands and they have not been addressed yet by the government,” Patil said. He added that even the partial loan waiver has not provided any relief to the farmers because the government had put in tough eligibility criteria. “The process to get online forms filled up is so slow that it raises questions over the government’s intent,” said Patil. He said the crop insurance scheme, which had a deadline to submit forms till 5 August, had left out more than 40% of the state’s total 11.3 million farmers.

Maharashtra government has set up around 26,000 facilitation centres across the state to accept online and offline forms from farmers for the loan waiver scheme.

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