Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Dabbawalas, Mumbaikars provide food to protesting farmers

Dabbawalas, Mumbaikars provide food to protesting farmers

The farmers, who have been demanding an unconditional loan waiver scheme after some of them failed to qualify for any financial relief under the Maharashtra government's initiative past year, chose to hold a march to Mumbai to register their dissent.

Hundreds of tribals and farmers joined the march under the leadership of senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Ashok Dhavale and Ajit Navale, the president of the Kisan Sabha.

"For writing off the entire debt burden of the farmers, the government needs barely Rs 1 lakh crore, which they don't have".

Fadnavis had announced a loan waiver scheme a year ago, but it was reportedly beset by technical problems. Earlier CM Devendra Fadnavis held a presser and said that the govt has accepted most of the demands of the farmers and has given them a written letter. The whole scenario is organised by All India Kisan Sabha. A majority of these Adivasis work on forest land and said they have not been granted ownership rights under the Forest Rights Act. A farmer from Nashik, who participated in the protest, also expressed gratitude to the people who supported them in their massive protest.

Apart from the Opposition parties, the Shiv Sena, a partner in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition, also vocally supported the agitation.

Thousands of women farmers marched into Mumbai alongside their male peers on Monday demanding the government recognizes their rights over forests and stops the takeover of land for industrial projects.

Subhash Talekar, the spokesperson of Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said, "We thought about helping the farmers with food as they are our food-providers and have come from remote parts of the state".

Almost a week after thousands of farmers set out on a protest march from Nashik to Mumbai, covering 170 km on foot, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has constituted a six-member ministerial committee under revenue minister Chandrakant Patil to look into the matter. The government is positive about addressing the demands of farmers. Recurrent drought, a scarcity of water for irrigation combined with a lack of modern farming equipment have led to a steep fall in productivity and income, forcing farmers to take out huge loans.

Although more than 50 percent of India's population is engaged in agriculture, the sector contributes only 15% to the nation's total GDP.

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