As thousands of Maharashtra farmers march towards Mumbai with a list of demands, drones captured visuals of the rally as it wound through meandering roads and different terrains while inching close to the Maximum City.
The march, which started from Dindori in Nashik district, has been organised by the CPM and will cover 200 km before it reaches Mumbai.
Organisers said that besides farmers, many workers in the unorganised sector, such as ASHA workers, and members of tribal communities have joined the march.
The Farmers’ Demands
The farmers marching to Mumbai have a long list of demands, including an immediate financial relief of Rs 600 per quintal to onion growers. Onion farmers in Maharashtra have been hit hard by a steep fall in prices. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has said high production has led to this situation and announced a compensation of Rs 300 per quintal to onion farmers.
The farmers are also demanding uninterrupted electricity supple for 12 hours and a waiver of agriculture loans. They also want steps to arrest a slide in the prices of soybean, cotton and tur and immediate relief to farmers affected by recent unseasonal rains and other natural calamities.
Those in the procession are also demanding implementation of the Old Pension Scheme for state government employees who have joined service post-2005.
The Government’s Response
The state government has reached out to the protesting farmers and two cabinet ministers, Dada Bhuse and Atul Save, will be meeting them on their way to Mumbai. A meeting was scheduled yesterday between representatives of the farmers and the state government, but could not take place. The farmers have now demanded that government representatives come and meet them.
Leader of the Opposition Ajit Pawar and CPM MLA Vinod Nikole have said in the Assembly that the government must talk to the farmers. In response, minister Bhuse said they will hold a meeting and hopes to reach an understanding with the farmers.
Speaking to NDTV, Mr Bhuse said, “They have 14 demands. The government will address them to the extent possible under the ambit of law.”
A 2018 Replug
The ongoing foot march by the farmers is similar to the 2018 ‘Kisan Long March’ from Nashik to Mumbai. Also organised by the Left parties, the march had seen participation of thousands of farmers. They had demanded a loan waiver and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers tilling it for years.
Once the protest reached Mumbai, then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had accepted the farmers’ demands.