MUMBAI: As the agitation of farmers in Maharashtra continued for the fourth day today and the supply of vegetables and milk remained largely hit, farmers' outfits said they were firm on going ahead with the 'Maharashtra bandh' tomorrow, excluding Mumbai.
The prices of vegetables and fruits have been on an upward path in cities, including Mumbai, due to the drastic fall in supplies from key production centres like Nashik and Ahmednagar.
Farmers, who have been on war path since June 1 over their demands, including waiver of farm loan and other concessions like lower power tariff, continued the agitation for the fourth day today in parts of Maharashtra, including Nashik and Ahmednagar, which have become nerve centres of the protest.
A meeting of farmers' representatives from different parts of the state under the aegis of Kisan Kranti Morcha (KKM) that is spearheading the agitation, was held at the agriculture produce market committee (APMC) in Nashik this afternoon.
During the meeting several resolutions were passed and a decision to go ahead with the Maharashtra bandh (excluding Mumbai) was taken. "The Kisan Kranti Morcha committee has given a call for 'Maharashtra bandh' tomorrow, excluding Mumbai," convener of the committee, Chandrakant Bankar, said.
A farmer leader from Nashik said, "The call for Maharashtra bandh had already been given, but it was suspended after a delegation of farmers met the chief minister. "Now, as the government tried to sabotage our stir, we have decided to go ahead with 'Maharashtra bandh' tomorrow.
The decision was taken this afternoon after a meeting of farmers' leaders in Nashik." As part of the 'Maharashtra bandh' tomorrow, the farmers' groups have decided to lock down the government offices, another farmer leader said.
One of the resolutions passed during the Nashik meeting said that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis should implement the farmers' demands "instead of just giving assurances". Demand for withdrawal of cases registered against the farmers at different places across the state during the stir was also part of the resolution, Bankar said.
A core committee meeting of KKM will be held at Mumbai on June 7 and a statewide convention of farmers will be held in Nashik on June 8 to decide the future course of action, he added. "Demands of farmers include a complete loan waiver, implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report and cancellation of the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur 'Samruddhi' expressway," Bankar said.
He appealed to the traders and transporters to join the ongoing protest by farmers. In Yavatmal, a farmers' outfit 'Shetkari Nyaya Hakka Anodolan Samiti' announced its support to the state-wide one- day 'bandh' tomoroow.
At some places in Nashik district, farmers staged rasta- rokos and poured milk on the roads, police said. At places like Yeola and Manmad in Nashik district farmers also took out a rally against the state government late this evening. Farmers in Marathwada also continued with the protests.
According to officials, while the supply of vegetables and milk to various markets has improved as compared to yesterday, the state authorities are trying to provide more protection to the vegetable and milk suppliers, who are bringing the produce from the neighbouring districts to Mumbai. "The vegetable and milk supply has to be smooth as its lower availability will have double impact-- the farmers who could not send their produce will incur losses, while the artificial increase in vegetables prices will affect the consumers," a senior state government official said.
Meanwhile, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and sitting MP from Kolhapur, Raju Shetti, said, "I am personally supporting the farmers' strike and members of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS) will participate in various areas of the state."
Asked about the role played by Maharashtra minister of state for agriculture and marketing and SSS leader Sadabhau Khot on Friday night when a group of farmers under the banner Kisan Kranti Morcha came to Mumbai and called off the strike, Shetti said, "Sadabhau has breached the trust of the farmers.
He was once the favourite leader of farmers, but now he has become a traitor. He wants to be close to power than protesting for the farmers' rights." "Khot has brokered the deal with the government and sabotaged the agitation. His action is against the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna's decision to support the strike.
He will be called before the state-level meeting of working committee of SSS," Shetti said. Farmers in Maharashtra launched their stir on June 1 for various demands, prominent being waiving loans due to crop failures and indebtedness, and guaranteed MSP.
After holding talks with leaders of farmers on late Friday night, the chief minister yesterday announced that his government would waive loans of farmers with small land- holding.
He said 80 per cent of such farmers are in Vidarbha and Marathwada who will benefit by the move. After the announcement, some farmer leaders announced that the stir stands withdrawn. However, a section of farmers expressed their resolve to continue with the agitation.