‘Time To Do Or Die,’ Say Maharashtra Farmers Marching To Mumbai
Eight months after they marched the streets of Mumbai, farmers from across Maharashtra have once again reached the maximum city. Over 10,000 farmers walked to the city from Thane, demanding the right to the land they cultivate and complete loan waiver.
42-year-old Ghanshyam Damodar, a farmer from Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district has been sowing wheat in the one acre land owned by his fore fathers for over a century. However, over the last three years, due to severe water scarcity, Damodar’s debts have increased drastically. Since he doesn’t even ‘own’ the land that he tills, there’s no way to demand a loan waiver or seek compensation from the government.
“My grandfather has been farming on this same land that I am toiling on, now. But we have no proof of that. We continue to work based on a certain ‘e-receipt’ given to us. Due to lack of proof, I have to bear the losses caused due to pests and I can’t avail any subsidies provided by the government.”Ghanshyam Damodar, Farmer
This isn’t the first protest march for Gayabai Ingale. The 50-year-old tribal farmer from Jalgaon district says she is tired of being afraid of losing her land and she has marched to Mumbai to reclaim her right.
“We walked so far, to ask for possession of our land. My feet are aching, my back hurts but it’s now or never. We are told we don’t own our land and more over we don’t even have adequate water to survive.”Gayabai Ingale, Farmer
While 66-year-old Govindaji does own his land, the price that he receives for his produce is almost half of what he spends on growing his crops.
“When we sow our seeds and grow our produce, we end up spending at least Rs 50,000. If one acre costs Rs 50,000 then 5 acres cost Rs 2,50,000. That’s how much we spend but when we go to sell our produce, we don’t even get Rs 1,50,000 for it.”Govindaji, Farmer
Some of the key demands of the farmers include complete farm loan wavier, transfer of forest land ownership to tribal farmers who have been cultivating the land for decades, Minimum Support Price that is 50 percent higher than the production cost and drought compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre for non-irrigated land and Rs 1 lakh per acre for irrigated land.
“They sell 50 kgs of soya bean for Rs 10,000, but when the farmer sells it to a businessman, he gets only Rs 3000 for 100 kgs of the produce. The government must investigate into this,” says farmer Sunil Rai Singh.
The farmers spent the night at an open ground in Sion, resting for a few hours before taking their battle to Azad Maidan on Thursday morning.
(With inputs from Mridula Arya and Sneha Koshy)