Thousands of farmers and tribals launched a march towards Mumbai from Nashik district in North Maharashtra on Tuesday in support of their demands, including an immediate financial relief of Rs 600 per quintal to onion growers, uninterrupted electricity supply for 12 hours and a waiver of agriculture loans.
They have also sought measures to arrest the fall of soybean, cotton and tur prices, and immediate relief to farmers affected by recent unseasonal rains and other natural calamities.
The protesters demanded implementation of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) for state government employees who have joined service post-2005.
The march, organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), started from Dindori in Nashik district and will cover a distance of around 200km to reach Mumbai.
Raising the issue in the state Assembly, which is having its budget session, CPI(M) MLA Vinod Nikole said a meeting between the state government and representatives of the agitating farmers was scheduled for Tuesday, but it was cancelled.
Ports and Mining Minister Dada Bhuse, who is also the Guardian minister of Nashik, said the government will hold a meeting with farmer representatives on Wednesday and hoped to reach an understanding on issues raised by the cultivators and tribals.
In the Maharashtra Assembly, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar urged the government to hold immediate talks with farmers keeping in view the prevailing hot weather as many protesters are walking barefoot.
The Maharashtra government on Monday announced a compensation of Rs 300 per quintal to onion farmers who are severely affected by a steep fall in prices of the commodity.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had announced the decision in the Assembly and said it will provide relief to onion growers.
Prices of the kitchen staple have crashed in Maharashtra, resulting in farmers getting very little for their produce.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)