On Friday, the Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh informed the Parliament that during the period of January-April, 2017, Maharashtra has reported 855 cases of farmer suicides. In his written reply, Singh explained that the central government has adopted a strategy for enhancing farmers’ income by making farming more viable and generate profits for farmers on a sustainable basis. Junior Agriculture Minister Parshottam Rupala also added that the state is implementing a pilot project in Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts of Amravati and Aurangabad division to provide some relief to the farmers and reduce the number of suicides.
One might say that the number of suicides has taken a significant dip this year, if compared to 1,023 cases of farmers’ suicides recorded for the period of January-April 2016. But the reality on the ground begs to differ. While the police had opened fire during a farmers’ protests in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district last month, the agricultural minister was busy doing yoga in Bihar with Ramdev Baba. This, along with the false promises of farm loan waiversy theBJP-led government, has sparked farmer protests all over Maharashtra. Over 40,000 farmers have taken part in the conventions organised by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) throughout Northern Maharashtra, Konkan, Vidarbha, Marathwada and Western Maharashtra. They also felt betrayed by the BJP government
The last leg of the convention, led by the trade union leader and social activist Dr Baba Adhav on July 23, has called for Chakka Jaam, a statewide road blockade. Lakhs of farmers will block national highways and state highways all across Maharashtra on August 14.
Earlier on May 11, Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha had held a statewide convention named “Aasood” where the AIKS state general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale had placed certain demands on behalf of the struggling farmers, major among which was a complete loan waiver to farmers who own less than 25 acres of dry land and less than 10 acres of irrigated land.
The other major demands included, the hand over of forest lands, temple/shrine land, pasture land with pattas to the cultivating peasants, scrap the pro-corporate Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and provide comprehensive insurance security to all farmers, provide pension of Rs 3000 per month to poor and middle peasants and agricultural workers aged 60 and above; ensure at least 200 days of work and minimum wage of Rs 350 per day to agricultural workers under MNREGA.
Aasood convention also demanded to scrap the river-joining project signed by the Maharashtra and Gujarat state governments, and instead conserve the water of the west-flowing rivers and devise schemes to give it to Thane, Palghar, Nashik and other drought-prone districts, The local peasants had to given soem priority while distributing water from the several dams built in Adivasi areas and the government should make adequate financial provision for irrigation and power.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.