Sewa Ram from Morena in Madhya Pradesh lost his standing crop to low rains in the past two years, but didn’t get a single penny from the government as compensation. This made him and his fellow villagers, who suffered the same fate, join the ongoing farmers’ agitation, hoping to put pressure on the government to waive farm loans.
Ram was among the hundreds who gathered in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on the conclusion of a 13-day-long farmers’ yatra, which started from Mandsaur
in Madhya Pradesh (the place where six farmers were shot dead in police firing last month).
The yatra passed through six states and was supported by over 150 farmer organisations. Protestors who have lost their farms to big irrigation projects also became part of the protests.
A slew of Opposition leaders, including CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury
and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, voiced their support. “I take the pledge to fight for the rights of farmers and I promise you that I am going to take this fight to Parliament,” Yechury told the gathering, while Sharad Yadav also promised the same.
The agitators are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee
Report on guaranteeing a minimum support price
(MSP) that is 50 per cent more than the cost of production, and making farmers debt-free.
The Centre, meanwhile, categorically said there was no proposal under consideration with regard to farm loan write-off, but instead it has put in place a facility for farmers to avail concessional debt.
Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka government have announced loan waivers
“There is no proposal at present under consideration of the government to write off the debt
of farmers,” the government said in a written reply to both the Houses on Tuesday.
In a related development, a paper written by former chairman of Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices Ashok Gulati, along with Icrier researcher Shweta Saini, showed impractical trade practices in farm commodities had hurt farmers the most between 2004-05 and 2013-14.