Farmers in Guj to hold 5-day protest for water, electricity, debt waiver

Farmers in Guj to hold 5-day protest for water, electricity, debt waiver

Several farmer organisations from Gujarat have announced a five-day protest in Gandhinagar to press for their demands for debt waiver, payment of crop insurance, Narmada water allocation and a host of other issues.

"Not only the government of Gujarat is not paying attention, (it) even does not allow us to speak or demonstrate! To obtain permission for any sort of programme is very difficult. In such circumstances, 30-35 leaders of various farmers' organisations met at office of Khedut Samaj – Gujarat and decided to stage a protest from March 12 to March 16," Sagar Rabari, general secretary, Khedut Samaj, said in a statement.

He said that despite repeated written presentations to the government of Gujarat on various issues concerning farmers in the state, including account of Narmada water or of work done on Kalpsar, debt waiver or payments of crop insurance, minimum support price (MSP), different rates of electricity to agriculture connection or free electricity for agriculture use like in other states and cancellation of anti-farmers act/policies of the GOG, it has not taken any action yet.

Among the organisations that are expected to be part of this five-day protest include the Khedut Samaj-Gujarat, Gujarat Kisan Sangathan and the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha.

Various organisations in the state have been seeking farm debt waiver of farmers in the state, that is estimated at Rs 70,000 crore.

The Congress had made farm debt waiver as its electoral issue in the Assembly polls last year, while the ruling BJP was quiet on the issue.

Though it did help the Congress fare better in rural areas, particularly the Saurashtra region, with the BJP coming to power in the state, the farmers are now trying to revive their demand.

The BJP on its part, too, is trying to woo farmers.

In its recent budgetary announcement, the BJP government announced a provision of Rs 500 crore for interest-free farm loans, Rs 1,100 crore for crop insurance, Rs 235 crore for MSP and Rs 2,800 crore for providing drinking water in tribal areas.

Among the other demands include providing for electricity connections for agriculture as well as different electricity rates for agriculture in different regions of the state.

As per the recent information provided by the state government, over 1,07,000 requests for electricity connections to agriculture are pending before the state.

Moreover, the electricity requirement is different in north Gujarat than in south Gujarat.

With the water table deeper in north, more electricity is required by farmers to draw water. The farmers now want cheaper electricity rates for north Gujarat region.



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