BHUBANESWAR: Encouraged by the farmers’ march in Maharashtra, around 15,000 farmers converged on Odisha capital on Monday to press for farm loan waiver and pension. Around 180 farmers are on an indefinite hunger strike.
Their demands include, among others, the allocation of Rs 21,600 crore in the state budget for a Rs 5,000 pension a month to each poor farmer in Odisha, which has 55 lakh farmers, of which 36 lakh are poor and marginal ones.
Protesting under the aegis of Navnirman Krushak Sangathan (NKS), the farmers came in a procession staged a protest near the assembly in Bhubaneswar. They also demanded a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 3,000 per quintal from the current Rs 1,550. “The state government can give a bonus of Rs 500 on every quintal of paddy procured. We also urge the government to waive the farm loan,” said NKS national coordinator Akshaya Kumar.
Talking about the Maharashtra protests, Kumar said, “The demands of farmers are similar across the country. Not only Maharashtra, farmers from Kutch to Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir to Kanyakumari will also rise in protest against the government’s indifference to their problems.”