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Maharashtra farmers call off protest after CM’s assurance to take up claims on priority


Maharashtra farmers call off protest after CM's assurance to take up claims on priority
Farmers march to Azad Maidan on Thursday. Prashant Nadkar

Farmers called off their protest Thursday following Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s assurances that all pending claims and appeals under the Forest Rights Act will be taken up in mission mode, and that compensation for crop losses will be extended to drought-affected tribals who have made FRA claims on land they till.

Fadnavis also assured the protesting farmers that directions would be issued to banks to give loans and benefits of other government schemes once land titles are transferred to the tillers’ names. Fadnavis held a meeting with a delegation of farmers and tribals led by Pratibha Shinde, general secretary of the Lok Sangharsh Morcha, on Thursday afternoon, the second day of the farmers’ protest in Mumbai. “The tribal farmers’ demands are justified and all departments concerned should work on mission mode to resolve their issues. The forest land rights claims should be cleared immediately. The tribal farmers whose claims are pending will be given drought compensation,” said the CM.

He added there would be stronger monitoring of the process of tackling pending claims under the FRA, and the status would be reviewed after three months. “Besides fast-tracking pending forest land rights claims, the criminal cases registered against tribals (for encroachment) will be withdrawn,” said Fadnavis.

Maharashtra farmers call off protest after CM's assurance to take up claims on priority
The farmers started marching towards Azad Maidan from a ground near Chunabhatti where they had halted Wednesday evening. Prashant Nadkar

Minister for Water Resources Girish Mahajan, Minister for Tribal Development Vishnu Savara, Minister of State for Cooperation Gulabrao Patil, Chief Secretary D K Jain, Shinde and others were present at the meeting. District collectors of Palghar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar, Nashik, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli also joined the meeting via video conferencing.

Addressing the gathering of farmers at Azad Maidan after the meeting, Shinde said: “Our demands have been accepted by the government and they have assured us that they will fast-track the pending claims.” In the evening, Shinde announced that the agitation has been call off.

Maharashtra farmers call off protest after CM's assurance to take up claims on priority
The farmers and tribals, who began the two-day march from Thane to Mumbai, reached Azad Maidan early Thursday (Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Earlier in the day, Dhananjay Shinde of AAP said the party would stand with the farmers. “It needs to be seen how the government plans to give separate 7/12 extracts to tribals after their claims are approved. It will make things easier for them to avail of benefits of government schemes,” he added.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and Congress’ Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, NCP legislators Shashikant Shinde and Vidya Chavan, Shiv Sena Minister Vijay Shivtare also came to Azad Maidan to extend their support.

The farmers started marching towards Azad Maidan from a ground near Chunabhatti where they had halted Wednesday evening. They reached Azad Maidan around 11.30 am Thursday.

(With PTI)



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