Farmers from a village in Ahmednagar district, who had called for protests five years ago forcing the then Devendra Fadnavis government to announce a farm loan waiver, have once again decided to take to the streets. This time, they demand a legislation making the minimum support price (MSP) mandatory for all the agricultural produce in Maharashtra.
In a special ‘gram sabha’ on Monday, farmers from Puntamba passed a resolution, seeking a law on the MSP, a complete waiver of electricity bills, 10-hour power supply during the day, and a grant of ₹2 lakh per hectare to those sugarcane farmers whose stock is yet to be crushed. The farmers have threatened to stage a ‘Kisaan Kranti’ agitation from June 1 to 5 if their demands are not met by the state government.
“We don’t want to beg the state government for a loan waiver again and again. Most of the issues of the farmers can be resolved if they start getting a proper price for their produce, which is possible only when an MSP is fixed. We urge the state to bring a legislation making MSP compulsory for the crops and that should be based on the production cost,” Dhananjay Dhanwate, sarpanch of Puntamba, told Hindustan Times.
He said there is a big difference between the prices farmers receive for their produce and the prices at which their produce is sold in the market. “This disparity needs to end and it will happen only if an MSP is decided by the state.”
The law on MSP will make it compulsory for the traders to buy farm produce at the prices declared by the state government.
Dhanwate said the farmers get power supply for irrigation only at night when they are already tired after returning from the field. “We want this practice to stop and they should be given a 10-hour power supply during the day so that the agrarian community can irrigate their fields,” he said, adding that they also want power bills to be waived completely.
This year, the production of sugarcane is very high in the state but because of lack of planning by Maharashtra Rajya Sahakari Sakhar Sangh (Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation Limited), all the stock could not be crushed especially when the crushing season is almost over, Dhanwate said. “We appeal to the state government to provide a grant of ₹2 lakh per hectare to the farmers who are going to face losses.”
Farmers from Puntamba will start their protest on June 1 which will be continued till June 5 and if their demands are not met by then, they will hold statewide agitations, which could be a strike or hunger strike, Dhanwate said.
Last year, the state government tabled three farm bills that suggested multiple changes in the three contentious farm laws brought in by the Central government. The changes include a mandatory MSP, licence for traders, and punishment not less than three years and a fine of ₹5 lakh for those who cheat farmers. The bills that were introduced in the state legislature were withdrawn after the Centre decided to repeal the three controversial farm laws.
The amendment bills brought in by the state were the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers’ Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
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