Four massive protests from today, farmers warn govt.

Mounting pressure: Children of Maharashtra farmers who committed suicide at a protest rally in New Delhi in July.  

Mumbai: Four large scale state-wide agitations to protest the government’s alleged anti-farmer policies were announced on Tuesday by the Steering Committee representing several farmer organisations in the State.

The first State-wide agitation, beginning on Wednesday, will aim to put an end to the alleged illegal collection of electricity charges and severing power supply to entire villages by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) and the State government. Dr. Ajit Navle, Maharashtra State Convener of the Steering Committee, said, “We’re going to take matters into our own hands. Across Maharashtra, farmers will gather in huge numbers at the offices of power companies and reconnect power supplies to various villages.”

The second will protest demonetisation on November 8, its first anniversary. “Thousands of farmers were severely crippled by demonetisation, and many are yet to recover from losses incurred during that period,” Raghunath Dada Patil, president, Shetkari Sanghtana, said. The third agitation will be to demand a complete farm loan waiver. “Only 8.5 lakh farmers of the State’s 89 lakh farmers have received farm loan waivers. We are protesting the government’s policy of giving loan waivers in stages for the rest. We want a one-time waiver for all farmers,” Dr. Navle said.

The Steering Committee said if the government fails to act on its demands after three agitations, it will resort to a fourth, which will be a ‘jail bharo andolan.’

Farmer leaders comprising the Steering Committee said the terms and conditions imposed by the government have also resulted in making lakhs of farmers ineligible for the loan waiver. Till date, only 55 lakh online applications for loan waivers have been approved. Despite announcing that the loan waiver process will begin after Diwali, farmers are yet to receive money in their accounts. The government has been blaming banks for inaccurate data on applicants.

‘Green list’ ready: govt.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Sub-Committee on farm loan waivers met on Tuesday to discuss problems in transferring money to the beneficiaries. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, State Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said the government has prepared a ‘green list’ of more than 1.01 lakh farmers and the money will be transferred to their accounts soon.

The government has opened a master loan waiver account with ICICI bank, from where money will be disbursed to farmers’ loan accounts. “We have deposited ₹671 crore in the account, to be given to the banks. The process is taking time as we are scrutinising each account to make the process transparent,” Mr. Deshmukh said.

Incidentally, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had distributed loan waiver certificates to farmers during Diwali. The government later claimed that money could not be transferred due to banks being closed for the festival. A few days later, it became clear that information received from banks had irregularities, including multiple accounts linked to one Aadhaar number and identical account numbers. The delay was also blamed on lack of co-ordination between the government’s IT and Cooperation departments. Mr. Deshmukh denied such problems, saying they were the ‘creation of the media’.

Veteran farmer leader Baba Adhav said, “Delay will only result in more farmer suicides. Since the majority of farmers have received debt waivers, they are ineligible for fresh loans.”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 5:32:25 AM |

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