Maharashtra farmers protest: Thousands gather in Nashik to begin long march to Mumbai today

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Feeling betrayed by the government, thousands of farmers have converged in Nashik for their second long march to Mumbai, Maharashtra. The farmers will begin their march on Thursday and are expected to reach the financial capital on February 27 The Indian Express reports that the farmers are demanding a complete loan waiver, implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations, Rs 40,000 per acre relief for all drought-affected farmers, a pro-farmer crop insurance scheme, MSP at 1.5 times the full cost of production, increased pension as well as ration and food security. They have demanded that the government should transfer land belonging to various temples in the state to the farmers for ploughing. The farmers are also asking the government to block all the water from rivers that run into the ocean and divert it for farmers in Maharashtra. Explaining the need for the march, CPI(M) MLA from Kalwan Jiva Pandu Gavit said: We will head to Mumbai to seek answers from this government as to why it failed to live up to the promises it had made last year. Gavit, however, maintained that he was open to having discussions with the government. .The government should be honest in its commitments. It has asked us to call off the march and hold a sit-in here but I have told the government that if it wants to talk, it can do so when we start our march. Talks can be held in front of everyone and if people are happy, then we can go our separate ways, Gavit was quoted by The Indian Express as saying. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) state general secretary Dr Ajt Nawle, too, said that he was ready for discussions but wont call off the march. We are ready for discussions and have initiated it a number of times. However, we have seen how the government has betrayed us and been negligent to our needs. We are open for discussions but that does not mean that we will call off the march. Both will happen simultaneously, According to IE, the government wants the protesters to call off the march and it was ready to address their concerns. Water Resources Minister and Guardian Minister of Nashik district Girish Mahajan said that all issues can be solved by discussion. Last week, when we met in Mumbai, all these issues were discussed threadbare. We believe that we have fulfilled most of the demands. However, if anything is pending, we can sit and find a solution. I plan to meet them and we hope to find a resolution, Mahajan was quoted as saying. Last year in March, around 40,000 farmers had undertaken a march towards Mumbai. The farmers had called off the protest following a written assurance by the state government that their demands would be accepted.

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