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Saturday 17 December 2011

Vidharba farmers protest Chavan’s ‘peanuts’ bailout package

Vidharba farmers protest Chavan’s ‘peanuts’ bailout package
altNagpur, Dec 15 (IANS) A day after four farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha, farmers of Maharashtra’s eastern region Thursday staged a road blockade on two highways to press their demand of better support prices for cotton, soya and paddy.
The four suicides take the toll of farmer suicides in the state to 722 in 2011 alone.
The protest also comes a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan declared a bailout package worth Rs.2,000 crore for the crisis ridden farmers of the state.
The farmers described the package as ‘a pittance’.
‘The farmers might settle for something that is close to their losses. But a mere Rs.2,000 crore package is not even worth peanuts,’ said Kishor Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), an activist group working for cotton farmers’ rights in Vidarbha.
Supporting the agitation in a unique way were residents of Ralegaon, a small village in Yavatmal district, 160 km from Nagpur. Over 50 residents of the village shaved off their heads, stating that they are undertaking the last rites of the government that is ‘dead’.
Several spots on the National Highway Nos. 6 and 7 saw agitating farmers demand Rs.6,000 as the minimum support price for raw cotton as against the market price of Rs.4,000 per quintal.
They also condemned the government for announcing a bailout package which they said makes a mockery of the sad plight of farmers.
Chavan announced the bailout package in the winter session of the assembly Wednesday stating that farmers will be compensated on a per hectare basis.
The four farmers who committed suicide are Ankush Raut of Wadki and Ashok Bhongale of Bhamada in Yavatmal district, Ramrao Kamble of Gaul in Wardha district, and Shriram Thege of Kesarwada in Bhandara district.
‘The shock of rejection of farmers’ main demand to give hike to support price in cotton, soya and paddy has reportedly led to their suicide. A pittance of a bailout package added to their depression,’ Tiwari said.

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