'No traffic diversions due to Farmers' Morcha'


Mumbai: After walking for about 180 km in the soaring temperature, about 35,000 farmers and agricultural workers from entered the country's financial capital Mumbai on Sunday, demanded complete loan waiver and higher support prices for their crop among other things. Currently, the protest has reached Shahapur in Thane district, which is around 73 Km away from Mumbai.

"We intend to reach Mumbai city on Sunday evening in a bid to seek attention of government towards our plight", said Tola Ram, a farmer who is attending the march.

Farmers leader Ajit Nawale said that among the major demands are implementation of the farm loans waiver announced in June 2017, (after farmers in the state went on a "strike"), then make the farmers completely debt-free, besides other demands. The BJP-led government had also rolled out a loan-waiver package costing Rs 34,200-crore to the exchequer.

Modi, who had promised to double farmers' income over five years, remains a popular leader almost four years into his term.

Fundkar added that he will decide how to handle the protest, and approach the farmers after discussions with the chief minister.

Farmers march under the banner of by All India Kisan Sabha, in Mumbai on March 11, 2018.

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An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people are part of the march, which started from Nashik on Wednesday.

Joint Commissioner (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said, "We have one day to talk to the protesters and we will not let this protest hamper the everyday life of Mumbaikars". Sources in the CMO said that Commissioner of Police DD Padsalgikar informed Fadnavis that the city would witness massive traffic snarls today and some untoward incidents can not be ruled out either.

In a considerate gesture, the farmers abandoned their night's rest, to march from the Somaiya Grounds, Vidyavihar starting 2 a.m. (Monday) to reach the historic Azad Maidan at dawn, to avoid inconveniencing students appearing for the ongoing board examinations.

They said that farmers were also protesting against the state governments land acquisition for projects like high speed rail and super highways. "Most of the agitators are tribals, and their main demand is forest land rights". "But they should withdraw the protest", said Mr Mahajan.

The farmers will stage a protest outside the legislative assembly here on March 12, demanding fair remuneration and loan waiver.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray met the farmers yesterday.