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Maharashtra government passed off benefits of loan waiver schemes

12 March 2018

Far from being able to stop the upsurge Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is scrambling to meet an All India Kisan Sabha delegation, probably this afternoon.

The protesters, who over several days walked 180 kilometres from the town of Nashik, northeast of Mumbai, also demanded waivers of farm loans, and higher prices for cereals and vegetables.

They also want tribal farmers, who mainly cultivate in forests, to be allowed to own land.

Volunteers are said to be helping farmers and distributing food to the farmers.

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Farmers, led by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) - a peasants front of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), will stage a protest outside the Maharashtra legislative Assembly on March 12, demanding fair remuneration and loan waiver. The sea of farmers holding "red flags" and shouting slogans started their midnight march from KJ Somaiya Ground to Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Monday.

While there is no likelihood of all farmers being allowed to proceed to the Assembly complex from Azad Maidan, a delegation of farmer leaders will be allowed to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The farmers intend to protest until their demands are met by the government, but there is no indication when it might be.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray had on Saturday come out in support of the farmers who had reached Mumbai. But the farmers are reportedly not satisfied. The government can do a lot for them, but the (Maoists') ideology is stopping them.

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Most farmers in Maharashtra are yet to receive the benefits of the loan waiver scheme, under which the government promised to waive bank loans up to Rs150,000. "I have only made an appeal that they should not cause any problem to the traffic since it's an exam day and more than one lakh students will get affected", CM Fadnavis said. Their demands include waiver of dues and loans and implementation of the Ms Swaminathan Committee report.

The Maharashtra state government says it is open to talks to end the protest. In 2017, the AIKS observed a 11-day farmers' strike and a road blockade across the state, but most of their protests, being confined within districts, never succeeded in attracting the attention of city residents. Their meeting was expected to begin at 1 pm.

The farmers found massive support from people along the way as they headed for Mumbai.

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Maharashtra government passed off benefits of loan waiver schemes