The state of Maharashtra witnessed long farmers march from Nashik to its capital Mumbai, which was organised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). SAIKS is the peasant’s arm of the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPIM). This march started on 7th March.
Some of the demands by the farmers included complete loan waivers, claims made by the farmers under the Forest Rights Act and opposing the government’s plan to link rivers in Thane, Nashik and Palghar, alleging that it might submerge tribal lands.
Ever since the march was launched, it was marred by allegations of having political undertones, most prominently of being backed by the CPM.
The BJP government in the state led by Devendra Fadnavis chose to adopt a tactful approach to the protest, by choosing to hold talks with the farmer groups rather than using force to disperse the protesters.
As per reports, a large chunk of the marching protesters comprised of tribals whose chief demand was getting land ownership which was guaranteed to them under the Forest Rights Act, passed by the erstwhile Congress-led government.
The protest was successfully called off by the farmers on Monday after the government assured that it would clear all the pending claims made by the tribals and waive all the loans taken by the farmers until June 2017.
This though just told a part of the story and didn’t shed light on the whole discussion, and manner in which the situation was addressed and then subsequently solved by the Fadnavis government.
Author and columnist Mayuresh Didolkar, as a result, decided to do something about it and listed out the mains points of discussion which were mentioned by CM Devendra Fadnavis while addressing the issue.
As curated by Mayuresh, Fadnavis promptly cleared the air regarding the nature of the people participating in the march. Contrary to popular perception, the main protesters weren’t farmers but were “tribal land labourers”, who formed about 90% of the crowd. The main demand of these land labourers, as also mentioned above, was their failure to fully or partially acquire their rightful jungle land.
Thus the state government had decided to settle all litigation pertaining to these lands within six months by constituting a special team. The tribals in question though needed to provide proofs regarding the same which are prior to 2005, which will result in their demands getting fulfilled.
When it comes to the matter of water and irrigation via river linking, Fadnavis claimed that proposals had been sent to the central government. The state government’s contention is that the state’s water must remain in the state, and it should end up in the Godavari and Girna basin.
As per Fadnavis, there was also a demand for constructing 31 dams in the state, regarding which the government would decide to post a feasibility study.
Coming to the issue of farm loan waivers, the last loan waiver had come in 2008 hence all the beneficiaries since 2009 have been included in the current scheme. While addressing the matter of farmers who had not benefited from the 2008 loan waiver, Fadnavis assured that if such farmers have taken a loan from 2001 to 2008, they would be included in the current scheme.
For loan waivers, a committee had been formed to address the difficulties regarding it. He also informed that a government resolution regarding waivers for families having a combined loan of less then Rs 1.5 lakh has already been sent to the banks.
Finally, Fadnavis informed the media that as a result of their assurances, the Kisan Sabha leaders were satisfied and had decided to call off their protests. In order to aid the return of these farmers, the state government had arranged adequate rail transport.