In Mumbai, CM Devendra Fadnavis’s late night meeting fails to make headway from farmers to firm on their decision. Maharashtra’s farmers are arranged to go on a first-ever strike by demanding for loan rejections, and a better price for their product go unmet. The main call of the strike is for a complete ban on the sale of milk, vegetables, and grains to the markets.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s meeting with spokespeople of striking farmers departed on Tuesday night was trivial. Mr Devendra Fadnavis met farmers from Puntamba in Ahmednagar when they did the first announcement of their decision to strike and also to convince them to call off the agitation. After a two-and-a-half-hour meeting, the farmers continued firm on their stand by saying, instead of accepting their demands, the government had only decided to describe the measures that have taken to improve their condition.
Apart from a farm loan rejection, the farmers need essential farm loans based on Ready Reckoner values of farmland and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations which assures better returns to farmers on their product and an import ban on certain goods. Mr. Fadnavis has declared his government will provide loan waivers, but he refused to announce a date.
The strike is expected to meet support from Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Nashik, Beed, and Vidarbha.
Raju Shetty, Lok Sabha MP of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), declared that supply of milk and vegetable stoppages from western Maharashtra to Mumbai. Kalidas Aapet, Executive President, SSS, suggested that those who try to break the farmers’ unity by supplying farm produce to market would face serious consequences.
Mr. Aapet said,
“We have asked farmers to not sell anything in a market from June 1 to 7,” “We want to know the government’s response during this period. We do not want the strike at all, but sometimes it is necessary to raise your voice.” He said that farmers participating in this strike would hold demonstrations, rallies, even fast. “It is possible that at some places protesters will be forced to use strength to make strike a success. It is bound to happen, and we cannot stop this. We want to make it 100% success.”
On Tuesday, Sharad Pawar, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and former Union agriculture minister said, like the UPA government in 2009, PM Narendra Modi should announce a farm loan refusal package which will not only give support but also create abilities to attempt new loans.
On Wednesday, The Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi is unsure of the strike impacting customers.
Shivaji Pahinkar, secretary, Vashi APMC, said,
“The picture will be clear tomorrow morning, as for whether the strike really cut off the supply or not.” He said that in any case, most of the grain that comes to the APMC is from northern states, where no farmers were on strike. “Hence, I do not think it will affect the grain supply unless organisations decide to forcefully stop vehicles. But even then, it is highly unlikely that people will face a shortage of grains anytime soon.”
Mr. Pahinkar told that the Vashi APMC had requested for security cover on Thursday to avoid untoward incidents.
“If a farmer voluntarily decides to not send his produce to market, then we can call it a strike,: he said. “But stopping him from sending his produce would amount to hooliganism.”Hoteliers in the city fear that the entire supply chain may get affected if the strike succeeds. “Vegetables are the highly perishable items and especially in the current weather, it is impossible to store large amounts,” said Adarsh Shetty, President, Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association.
As per requirements, hoteliers buy vegetables daily, and if this strike happens, it will impact them and indirectly to their customers.
He hoped that strike would be called off and recalled that the industry had suffered last year when a strike hit the APMCs:
“We had to remove some vegetable dishes from our menu. If farmers go ahead with tomorrow’s strike aggressively, a similar situation may arise.”
Mumbai’s milk supply would be approximately 50 lakh litres a day that comes mostly from outside the city and mainly from western and northern Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Arun Patil, Chairman of the Indian Dairy Association, assumes that the strike will impact supply. “Consumers could face trouble if the strike continues for more days.”
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