Lucknow: Following the call of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), farmers across Uttar Pradesh will hold a protest against the steep hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG on July 8.
Several farmers' unions including the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) - Uttar Pradesh, Mazdoor Kisan Manch, All India Kisan Mahasabha and All Indian Kisan Federation appealed to their members to stop their petrol and diesel vehicles on state and national highways across Uttar Pradesh for two hours from 10 am to 12 noon and to sound the horn for eight minutes at 12 noon. The farmers' unions also appeal to women to bring cylinders to the roads to protest against the LPG price hike.
"The skyrocketing price of diesel is adding a massive financial burden to the farmers' community and increasing their hardship in these times of Covid-19 pandemic. The price of diesel was around Rs 65 per litre in 2018 and by July 2021, it reached Rs 90.23 in the state. Farmers have already not been getting the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce due to the government's misrule. They are fighting for MSP for the last eight months and now the continuous hike in fuel prices and high electricity rate are resulting in the accumulation of debt, which is forcing them to die by suicide," Mukut Singh, general secereatry of AIKS, UP, told Newsclick. He added that the use of machinery in farming became inevitable — from land tilling to transportation — and the frequent hikes in diesel price are turning cultivation into a costly affair.
Noting government apathy to the ongoing farmers' protest against three farm laws, Singh went on to add, “Such small protests need to be organised on a weekly basis as they will give new strength to the ongoing agitation as the government did not listen to their demands after almost eight months of the agitation. The ruling government is not making any efforts to control either the price of diesel, petrol or LPG, even not paying heed towards farmers who have been camping on Delhi border."
Echoing similar sentiments, Brij Bihari, general secretary of Mazdoor Kisan Manch, said, "Farmers are directly connected with petrol and diesel and if the price increases, it is affecting their pockets. Be it using water pumps for moving water for irrigation or using tractor for cultivation, diesel is required. Meanwhile, the returns on farm produce are very disappointing as the average farmer is failing to get remunerative prices on their produce. Sometimes, when a particular commodity is excessively produced, it is resulting in distress sales at throwaway prices. For example, mango growers used diesel during harvesting and also bought expensive pesticides but they are selling the produce for Rs 15-20 per kg. So the whole point is there is no increase in agriculture production but the amount used during the exercise including diesel, petrol, electricity, labour, etc are increasing rapidly," Bihari told Newsclick, adding that the hike on petrol, diesel and LPG prices is also a reason why the anger among farmers is growing every day
Farmers' unions of Uttar Pradesh have urged their district and block-level members to reach out to the district headquarters and gather by roadside to ensure huge participation of farmers and strengthen the movement.
A small farmer from Sitapur said that he spent excessively on fuel for running generators and tractors. "Many farmers cannot afford extra money on these so they destroy their crops. "We want the central government to reduce the prices of diesel and petrol and give us some relief even if they are so adamant to not repealing the three agriculture laws," Nagaram Yadav, the farmer, said.
Under the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha call to hold nationwide protests on July 8 against fuel price hikes, demonstrations will be organised on roadsides between 10 am and 12 pm on the day without obstructing traffic. The outfit has urged people from all walks of life to join the protests.