Igatpuri: Siddhappa Kalshetti (65) is a farmer from Solapur district. Even after repeated attempts to claim the waiver of his farm loan, he has not received any relief from the claimed ‘historic’ farm loan waiver announced by the State government last year.
Angry with the government, he will join more than 30,000 other farmers on a 6-day ‘Long March’ from Nashik to Mumbai under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).
Distressed farmers are pouring in thousands at Nashik to join the march, as the number swells each day. The serpentine march made its second stop on Wednesday at Ghatan Devi, near Igatpuri, almost 60 kilometres from Nashik.
Ajit Nawale of AIKS said that the numbers show how angry farmers are with the government. “This government has made so many declarations since it came to power but has not delivered on even one. The farm loan waiver was declared, but has been so haphazardly implemented that 14 lakh more farmers are yet to receive any waiver,” said Nawale.
“The government has not implemented the Forest Rights Act either. It declared that they will implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, but their MSP calculation still does not consider the C2 cultivation cost,” explains Nawale, adding, “We will surround the Vidhan Bhavan until the farmer gets his due.”
Waiting for waiver
Kalshetti said, “There are 26 conditions to be fulfilled before a farmer gets a waiver. The whole procedure is online. Many farmers like me are waiting for relief as the interest is piling up,” adding, “Even for sugarcane, the government had declared a rate of Rs 2,700-2,800. But no factory is giving a rate above Rs 2,100-2,200. Other farmers from Solapur too will be joining me on the 11th.”
Khandu Waghchoure (72), a farmer from Akole in Ahmednagar district, is also taking part in the march. “I grow sugarcane, onion and also sell milk. We suffered because of low rates of onion and get Rs 8-9 less from the agencies that buy our milk,” Waghchoure said, adding, “Everyone lies to the farmers. If a farmer gets relief, earns some money, he repays every debt. He does not cheat anyone. As input costs rise, the farmer is being continually harassed. Other people should try doing farming if they feel we’re just complaining.”
Claiming agrarian distress and multiple issues regarding agriculture, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) had given a call to farmers across Maharashtra to join this long march from Nashik to Mumbai, demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, deliver the waiver of farm loans which was declared last year, to start a pension for farmers, implementation of the Forest Rights Act of 2006 and other such demands.