Akola (Maharashtra), March 31 (IANS) Cotton farmers and widows of debt-laden peasants went on a day's hunger strike Saturday in different Maharashtra towns to protest the new five percent purchase tax levied on cotton trade in the state budget, an activist said.
'This new tax is yet another blow to the cotton farming community in the state as the traders would now not buy cotton from them and source it from Madhya Pradesh or Andhra Pradesh,' Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishor Tiwari, which is spearheading the agitation against the new tax proposed in the budget earlier this week, told IANS.
Following the massive cotton crop failure this year in the state, Tiwari predicted that the new tax would add to the growing number of farmland suicides in the state's eastern part of Vidarbha.
The trading community was sympathising with the farmers and would stop buying cotton from Monday till the new tax, intended to generate an additional revenue of over Rs.2 billion annually, was withdrawn, he said.
Besides Tiwari, other farm activists like Suresh Bolenwar, Tukaram Meshram, Ankit Naitam, Moreshwar Watile, Mohan Jadhav, farm widows Bebitai Bais, KBC-fame Aparna Malikar, Manju Ambarwar, Cotton Traders Association office bearers Suvidhi Surana, Rikhab Mutha, Chandrakant Chokhani, Kishore Khera and Vijay Kondawar joined the day-long fast in Pandharkavda town in Akola district.
Tiwari claimed that following the announcement on the new tax, cotton prices in the state fell by around Rs.200 per quintal at Rs.3,400 per quintal.
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