AIKS-led 10,000-Strong Kisan Long March Begins From Nashik With a 17-point Demand Charter
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) began a 10,000-strong Kisan Long March from Nashik to Mumbai on March 13 with a 17-point charter of demands—the most important demand concerns remunerative crop prices, especially onions. The crops include cotton, soybean, turn, green gram, hirda, etc.
The onion farmers are particularly facing an acute crisis. The crash in onion prices for the past three weeks has brought thousands of farmers to their heels.
As per a report in The Print, the onion prices at Lasalgaon (Maharashtra) were Rs 1,151/quintal on February 4. By February 26, in three weeks, the prices dropped to Rs 550/quintal.
The APMC management and trader in the state blamed sudden temperature change and rise in import duties from neighbouring countries for the crash in onion prices.
Typically, onions get cultivated in three seasons, Kharif, late-Kharif and Rabi. Only Rabi season onions can get stored for more than one month. However, the sudden increase in temperature this year led farmers to cultivate the late-Kharif crops early; this caused a sudden rise in the produce. The increase in import duties in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sri Lank and Bangladesh also didn't help the farmers' cause.
In its demand charter, AIKS has demanded Rs 2,000/quintal for onions. The farmers' organisation has also asked for an immediate subsidy of Rs 600/quintal and a change in export policies.
Other significant demands include a complete loan waiver to the peasantry, the waiving of pending electricity bills and 12-hour daily supply of power, compensation by the government and insurance companies for the damage sustained by peasants due to unseasonal rains and other natural calamities, an increase in the PM Housing scheme subsidy from Rs 1.40 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, among others.
The participants had gathered outside Nashik city on March 12. They marched into the town today, March 13, and held a protest demonstration at the Dindori chowk by throwing away onions, tomatoes, brinjals, etc.
Before the start of the march, a preliminary meeting was held between a senior minister in the state government, Dada Bhuse, and an AIKS delegation. As per reports, an AIKS delegation is scheduled to meet chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on March 14 in the state Assembly premises. However, AIKS has clarified that the Kisan Long March will continue on its route to Mumbai until a satisfactory agreement is reached.
The march was led by AIKS leader GP Gavit, ex-MLA Ashok Dhawale, Ajit Nawale, Umesh Deshmukh, and Uday Narkar, among others.
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