Tue, Mar 13, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Thousands of Indian farmers protest in Mumbai


Thousands of farmers from across western India yesterday listen to their leader at a rally marking the end of a six-day march to Mumbai to demand more aid from state and central governments and fair prices for their produce. They plan to surround the Maharashtra state legislature building in Mumbai.

Photo: AP

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers yesterday protested in Mumbai after walking more than 100km to demand better crop prices and land rights.

The farmers, wearing red caps and carrying red flags, arrived in the city following a six-day trek from Nashik, 165km north of the city.

Officials estimated that up to 30,000 demonstrators, including elderly women and young children, had gathered at Azad Maidan playing field in the south of Mumbai to press their demands.

“We have made arrangements including setting up of emergency medical facilities and potable drinking water,” said Tanaji Kamble, a spokesman for Mumbai’s civic authority

Many are tribespeople who have farmed for generations on land they do not own, but are demanding recognition of ownership

The protesters want the state government of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, to transfer forest land to tribal farmers who have been working it for years.

They also want to be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of producing their crops and are demanding that the government waives all farm loans.

The Maharashtra government has said it is willing to consider the demands and is due to meet farming leaders to try to reach a deal.

Last year Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government would write off loans to farmers estimated to be worth about 305 billion rupees (US$4.75 billion).

Maharashtra is one of India’s most important agricultural states. In recent years it has suffered disappointing rains which led to crop failures.

More than 2,500 farmers killed themselves in the state last year, official figures show.

Additional reporting by AP

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