Mumbai, Thane & Navi Mumbai may face milk, vegetable shortage as farmers go on indefinite strike

Mumbai, Thane & Navi Mumbai may face milk, vegetable shortage as 5 lakh farmers go on strike
Farmers spill milk on highway in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra after loan waiver talks fail. Picture Courtesy: ANI

Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai among others may experience severe shortage of milk, vegetables, food grains and other items as around 5 lakh farmers have gone on an indefinite strike from today, June 1.

Stray incidents of violence marred the start of an unprecedented ‘indefinite strike’ by farmers in Maharashtra in support of various demands, including the long-pending loan waiver package on Thursday.

If the strike continues beyond a couple of days, major cities like Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and others may experience severe shortage of milk, fresh fruits, vegetables, food grains and other items of daily requirements, said Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti.

Striking farmers, who had warned they would not indulge in any farming activity, including sowing for the upcoming kharif season, resorted to the agitation after talks with the Maharashtra government failed on Tuesday.

Minor incidents of violence were reported from some parts including Nashik, Satara, Kolhapur and Pune where aggressive farmers emptied at least two tankers with several tonnes of fresh milk being transported to the cities, destroyed stocks of fresh vegetables, tomatoes, onions, being taken to markets.

In another incident near Satara, the driver of a milk tanker was manhandled by some farmers and prevented from proceeding to his destination to transport the commodity, while stones were pelted at some vegetable and police vehicles near Nashik.

The strike, backed by outfits like Shetkari Sanghatana, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and rival political parties, has elicited “good response” from farmers all over the state, except from agriculturists in the coastal Konkan, who are not part of the agitation.

Movement of agricultural goods has been restricted since midnight.

While Maharashtra State Market Committees Cooperative Federation Ltd (MSMCCFL) president Diliprao Mohite Patil said all 307 APMCs in the state would remain open on June 1, most were empty as farmers, traders, transporters and other officials kept off.

On the outskirts of Nashik and Ahmednagar, small groups of farmers set up ‘check-posts’ to verify if goods carriers were transporting fruits, vegetables, milk, etc. before permitting passage.

The farmers’ demands include complete waiver of farm loans, free electricity, appropriate remunerative prices for their produce, grant for irrigation and higher price for milk and implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations.

Mumbai, the country’s biggest city with a population of around 17 million, gets around 160 tonnes of vegetables daily from Nashik alone, besides other parts of Maharashtra, which started declining from early today, leading to a 20-30 percent hike in retail prices.

Although government agencies and traders seem confident that the strike won’t last long since farmers may not be in a position to sustain financial losses, Minister for Civil Supplies Girish Bapat has said that the government is carefully monitoring the situation and might step in if necessary.

With agency inputs

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