Around 40,000 farmers and tribals from across Maharashtra reached Mumbai on Monday, six days after they began their ‘long march’ from Nashik. Till now, the protesters have walked more than 160 km.
Why are farmers and tribals protesting?
The demand of the farmers includes a complete loan waiver as their incomes continues to shrink, leading to an economic distress. They also want an overhaul of a river linking plan belonging to tribal belts such as Kalwan, Sargan and Dindori in Nashik; Talasari, Mokhada and Jawhar in Palghar; Shahapur and Murbad in Thane; and parts of Jalgaon.
The tribals who have joined the protesting farmers seek not a loan waiver but implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 that gives them ownership to land.
Their agitation comes in the back of successive droughts, inequitable water management and pricing policies have seen a slow impoverishment of the farmer community everywhere in Maharashtra, reported The Indian Express.
How much are the farmers losing for taking out the march?
“Each day away from work for a farmer or agricultural labourer means a significant loss of income, and less food on the table. Further, the TN farmers in that last protest had gone all the way to Delhi – and their desperation and forms of protest tell us a great deal about how insensitive and uncaring we in the media are. That kind of trip cost them even more. The Maharashtra farmers now on the Long March are within their own state, but doing a huge distance walking in increasingly hot weather. Like their counterparts in Tamil Nadu, the cost is deep and hurting. Every day away from work is a loss of important money. For agricultural labourers, each day on the protest is a loss of the daily wage for that day. Many will go hungry for days after their return. It should tell you something about how deeply grieved they are, how provoked by the state’s neglect, to be putting themselves through this. People are sacrificing, cutting into their own food, cutting into their own income, in order to be able to take part in the protest. And how thoughtful they are, still, changing the timings of their entry into the city – by marching at midnight – so as not to inconvenience all those students who will be sitting for their exams tomorrow daytime,” said journalist P Sainath of People’s Archive of Rural India, reported The News Minute.
How Mumbaikars welcome the tired farmers and tribals
Residents of Mumbai have come out to help the farmers who have walked hundreds of kilometres to the city. Volunteers are giving them water, biscuits and also cooked food. At major junctions in highways, residents are supplying water. In many other areas, they have called for water tankers in case the farmers and tribals need more water.
Scroll reported that a truck carrying food supplies had also travelled with the farmers along the Nashik-Mumbai highway. They also periodically halted to cook their own food.