Farmers call off protest after govt assurance

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The Lok Sangharsh Morcha, which led the farmers’ march to Mumbai’s Azad Maidan on Thursday, 22 November, called off the protest after getting written assurances on their demands from the Maharashtra government.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured tribal farmers that their forest land rights claims will be settled by December this year.

Fadnavis gave assurance to representatives of the protesting farmers who marched to Azad Maidan here for redressal of their grievances, which include compensation for drought and transfer of forest rights to tribals.

A delegation of the protesting tribals met Fadnavis at Vidhan Bhawan in south Mumbai, where the winter session of the State legislature is underway. Tribal Welfare Minister Vishnu Savra said that 3.6 lakh claims were received, of which 1.74 lakh have been settled in favour of the tribals. Similarly, 12,000 claims for community forest activity were received, of which 7,700 have been settled, he said.

Fadnavis assured the delegation that the remaining claims would be settled by December this year. The march reached Azad Maidan early Thursday, eight months after a similar protest was held at the venue. The farmers and tribals who began the two-day march from Thane to Mumbai on Wednesday.

Magsaysay award winner Dr Rajendra Singh, also known as the Waterman of India, was among the marchers. He blamed the government for the drought, which he termed as “man-made”. The farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, which suggested that farmers must have assured access and control over resources such as land and water. They are also demanding an increase in the minimum support price (MSP) and a judicial system to ensure its implementation.

“We have been consistently asking the State government to fulfil our long-standing demands, but the response has been lukewarm. We were forced to launch this agitation,” said Pratibha Shinde, general secretary of the Lok Sangharsh Morcha, which is organising the protest.

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