Mumbaikars offer food, water to protesting farmers.


Mumbaikars offer food, water to protesting farmers.


MUMBAI:  As the protesting farmers entered Mumbai in the scorching heat, Mumbaikars turned up to welcome them with refreshments at Mulund, Vikhroli and Ghatkopar. When in the afternoon they reached the  KJ Somaiya ground, the authorities requested them to terminate their march citing the SSC board exams as a reason. The farmers agreed to march on Sunday night instead of the next morning.

The compromise came after the government showed willingness to negotiate with them. It sent an emissary to speak to the march leaders last afternoon, before the farmers reached their night halt venue – KJ Somaiya ground. Medical education minister Girish Mahajan invited a delegation of the long march leaders, after their six days of walking in the scorching heat, at Vikhroli police station to discuss their problems, and also extended an invitation for a talk with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The 180-km long march, from Nashik to Mantralaya, was started by the All India Kisan Sabha, it reached Mumbai’s eastern suburbs yesterday. The farmers are upset with the government for not giving them a complete loan waiver along with several other issues.
30,000 farmers are already part of the protest, and have marched to Mantralaya. Their demands include a complete loan waiver, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, which gives a fair price for farm produce, change in the river-linking scheme, proposed to be implemented in Nashik, Thane and Palghar, so that tribal areas don’t get submerged, and the government paying their electricity bills.

Mahajan said, “The government was ready to discuss their demands. But the leaders told the minister that the government must assure them in writing that all demands would be met, or they would lay siege to Vidhan Bhavan from Monday.”
While the initial plan was of leaving Somaiya ground on Monday morning and head to South Mumbai, the leaders decided to start at night for the sake of exam-stressed students. AIKS president Ashok Dhawale, speaking to mid-day late on Sunday, said, “We will try to reach Azad Maidan in the morning, so that students appearing for their board exams are not disturbed. A delegation will be meeting the CM tomorrow [Monday] to put forth our demands.”

These are the facilities provided.

Ground support At Azad Maidan
*40 mobile toilets
*Four water tankers
*Free access to farmers to all pay-and-use toilets near Azad Maidan and Mantralaya
*One ambulance
*Extra manpower for cleanliness in and around Azad maidan

At Somaiya
*Three water tankers
*140 mobile toilets
*Fogging in the area
*Sion hospital medical staff on standby

Facilities by N ward
*One 108 ambulance, two from Rajawadi hospital, complete with doctors and paramedical staff
*Muncipal tanker stationed at Ramabai Nagar
*Nine mobile toilets at Anand Nagar, Mulund

Along march route
*130 mobile toilets
*Seven municipal water tankers
*Six private water tankers
*Two private ambulances
*Two fogging teams