Farmers Protest: Stay away from Eastern Express Highway, cops warn of massive jam
Police put out advisories, suggest alternative travel routes as protesting farmers are set to enter city this morning
The farmers have been covering 30 km every day since they started out from Nashik on March 6. Pic/Sameer Markande
The city could wake up to some chaos on Sunday morning, as 25,000 protesting farmers, who have been marching from Nashik for the past week, are expected to enter the city from Thane. The protesting farmers of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) are demanding a complete waiver of loans.
The Mumbai traffic police have a gigantic task on their hands managing this disruption to citizens' normal lives and have released an advisory for motorists. They are expecting a bigger disruption on Monday morning when the protesters start their walk from Sion to Vidhan Bhavan. The farmers started on their 180-km long march on March 6 from the CBS Chowk in Central Nashik. The farmers, who are covering a distance of 30 km every day, aim to gherao the Vidhan Sabha in Mumbai on March 12. On Saturday, the farmers started from Vashind and reached Bhiwandi by afternoon, before halting for the night at Mumbai Dhaba near Kharegaon Toll Naka.
According to the traffic police, the protesters will enter the city at 10 am from Anand Nagar toll naka, Mulund, via the Eastern Express Highway, and will proceed through Vikhroli, Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, Chheda Nagar, Suman Nagar and reach Somaiyya Ground, Sion, around 9 pm on Sunday. In view of the large number of protesters, the traffic police have shut the south bound road of the Eastern Express Highway on Sunday from 9 am to 11 pm.
"On Sunday, the entire Eastern
Express Highway stretch will be blocked by the marching protesters. Traffic updates will be given from time to time through social media, radio and other modes of communication," said Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner, traffic. When asked about the traffic arrangements for Monday, He replied, "We are working on it."
Deven Bharti, joint commissioner (law and order)
Government officials and the police are already in talks with the protesters to avoid chaos on Monday. "If the protesters are allowed to march forward from Somaiyya Grounds, vehicular movement in Sion will be completely stopped as there are not enough alternative routes towards south Mumbai," said a senior police officer.
Joint Commissioner (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said, "We have one day to talk to the protesters and we will not let this protest hamper the everyday life of Mumbaikars." Meanwhile, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has announced his support to the farmers. He may welcome the protesters when they enter the city on Sunday morning. Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party, too, have extended support to the marching farmers.
Demands of farmers
The farmers are demanding a complete waiver of loans and electricity bills, implementation of recommendations suggested by the Swaminathan Committee, adequate compensation for all farmers whose crops were destroyed by the pink bollworm and pension for poor farmers.
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