MAHARASHTRA Farmers Call Off Agitation After Govt Gives Undertaking In Writing Accepting Their Demands

Central Railway will run special trains for the return journey of the thousands of farmers who marched to Mumbai, India’s financial capital, in support of their various demands, after the Maharashtra Government has committed in writing for redressal of their long standing grievances. Maharashtra Minister Girish Mahajan claimed that farmers were satisfied with the outcome of dialogue between their representatives and the State Government. It is claimed that the majority of those who marched to metropolis were tribal people from rural Maharashtra. The main issue for the unprecedented agitation was not for farm loan waiver as being reported by some media. The Adivasis are demanding implementation of The Forest Land Rights Act of 2006 for the benefit of land tillers who are denied institutional credit following crop failure. Their other demands include basic things such as new and renewed ration cards so that they can access the Public Distribution System, or imploring the government to fix data/ technical errors in the database of beneficiaries for government schemes such as Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yajna and Shravan BAL Yojna. Government has assured them to resolve ration card related discrepancies in 6 months. Ration cards in tribal areas have not been renewed or issued for several years. The government has reassured the farmers that new BPL ration cards will be issued within 6 months. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has constituted a high level six-member committee, assured the farmers and tribals of assistance in a time-bound manner. He told the farmers ‘leaders that the government would try to resolve forest land related issues within six months. It also promised to form a special team headed by the chief secretary to look into the re-verification of disputed or controversial land titles in tribal areas. First post reports Fadnavis had drafted an ambitious plan to make the INR 34,000 core farm loan waiver pilferage-proof by linking disbursal to Aadhaar numbers. Investigation conducted by the Fits post reveals how banks turned in such corrupted list of beneficiaries and their Aadhaar numbers that the entire disbursal mechanism has collapsed. This caused needless delay in disbursals and put enormous pressure on the government to speed up the process, which they did by abandoning the Aadhaar-linkage. The BJP-led government in Maharashtra announced its historic farm loan waiver scheme — titled the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana — on 22 June, 2017. The scheme was originally intended to benefit 89 lakh farmers. Chief Minister Fadnavis had estimated that the burden on the state exchequer on account of the scheme would be Rs 34,022 crore. However, the scheme has been hobbled by technical glitches, mismatches in data and tussles in the bureaucracy. Government passed off benefits of loan waiver schemes to 35.68 lakh farmers out of a total 89 lakh eligible farmers. One of the major demands being raised by the protesting farmers is to hasten up the already delayed roll-out of last years’ farm loan package. According to a report in Livemint, as of 6 March, the state government has passed on Rs 13,782 crore as loan waivers to 35.68 lakh farmers out of a total 89 lakh farmers expected to benefit from the scheme. CM Fadnavis is being criticized for delay in reaching out to the farmers. He says his government was in touch with the march organisers since 6 March.”When this protest march was about to begin, Girish Mahajan from the government side spoke to the farmers and tried to dissuade them from starting the protest march. The government tried to start a dialogue with the farmers but they were adamant to start a protest march,” Fadnavis told the Assembly. All help was provided, like traffic management and deployment of medical vans, he said. If the farmers’ demand for complete waiving of farm loans and electricity bills is accepted in toto, The State will have to find out the means to deliver. The exchequer is already on a weak ground after an additional INR 20,000 crore borrowing to fulfil part of the INR 34,000 crore farm loan waiver already announced post Yogi’s announcement. With the Lok Sabha poll away in a year, The Congress, NCP, Left and other political parties including the Shiv Sen are supporting the farmers’ demands putting Team Fadnavis under pressure .Congress president Rahul Gandhi today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra CM Fadnavis to shed their egos and accept the “just demands” of the thousands of farmers and tribals protesting in Mumbai. The Congress, he added, stands with the farmers and tribals marching to protest against the apathy of the central and state governments.”I appeal to PM Modi and the CM to not stand on ego and to accept their just demands,” Gandhi tweeted. Fadnavis says 80% of the protesters are tribals, seeking land rights not loan waivers. Speaking in the Maharashtra Assembly over the farmers’ protest, he said that a substantial number of those participating in the protests are landless tribals, whose main concern is forest rights and land rights. “Around 90 to 95 percent of the participants are poor tribals. They are fighting for forest land rights. They are landless and can’t do farming. The government is sensitive and positive towards their demands.

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