‘Long March’ By 35,000 Farmer Succeeds; Maharashtra Govt Agrees Upon Farmer Demands
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that his government had agreed to almost all the demands of the farmers who participated in the 'long march' that culminated here today.
He said that the government would set up a committee to hand over ownership of land, currently notified as forests, to Adivasi farmers tilling them.
It was one of the primary demands of the farmers and tribals who participated in the 'long march'.
While the Forest Rights Act came into effect in 2006, several tracts of land continued to be notified as forests despite members of various Adivasi communities tilling them for years.
"A meeting was held with farmers and Adivasi representatives in the Vidhan Bhavan (Legislative Complex). We have agreed to set up a committee to allot such land to Adivasis, provided they submit proof that they have been tilling it. The proof document should be from before 2005. We have accepted almost all their demands," Fadnavis told reporters outside the state Assembly.
He said that these applications (for the allotment of such land) would be cleared in six months.
Officials from the state's Adivasi Department said that such tracts of forest land measured 3.45 lakh hectare and over one lakh applications was received from farmers for allotment of ownership rights over them.
"We need to scrutinise each and every application before allotting the land. The department currently has over one lakh applications from farmers asking for these lands under the FRA," the official said.
Fadnavis said, "We have also agreed to the effective implementation of the Nar-Par-Tapi-Narmada and Damanganga-Pinjal river connectivity projects (both pacts between Maharashtra and Gujarat) through which districts of north Maharashtra would get additional water for irrigation."
On the demand by protesters to implement the Swaminathan Commission's recommendation of giving farmers a Minimum Support Price of one-and-a-half times the cost of production, Fadnavis said that the recommendation was accepted and would be implemented.
Fadnavis said, "The Swaminathan Commission was set up during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's regime and it submitted its report to the Centre when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. They (UPA) did nothing, but we have accepted the recommendations. We will implement it," Fadnavis said.
He, however, said that the state government could not accept the demand for additional loan waivers.
He said, "In some cases, the loan of the wife was waived as it was lower and the husband's loans weren't. We will set up another committee to look into a fresh definition of a farmer's family to overcome this issue and see how much extra money it would cost the state."
He informed that train services would be arranged for the farmers to take them back to their hometowns.