Nagpur (Maharashtra), May 15 (IANS) A delegation of cotton farmers and farmers' widows from Maharashtra will meet United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chief Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi May 20, seeking lifting of the ban on cotton exports, an activist said here Sunday.
Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) president Kishore Tiwari said that the delegation will apprise Gandhi of the immense hardships faced by the cotton farmers in Maharashtra and other parts of the country on account of the ban on exports, resulting in agitations in different parts.
According to Tiwari, the delegation will also demand sacking of Union Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran who is allegedly responsible for the crisis gripping the textile industry.
'If we are not satisfied with the outcome of our meetings in the capital, then, like Anna Hazare, we plan to sit on indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar and relay strikes all over India till our demands are fulfilled,' Tiwari told IANS.
Slamming the 'anti-farmer policies' pursued by Maran, Tiwari alleged that the present ban on cotton exports was designed to protect the textile lobby of south India and enable them get cheap raw material to hike their profit margins.
The present prices of raw cotton (which includes 35 percent pure cotton and rest seeds) have plummeted to below Rs.3,400 per quintal last month, from a high of Rs.7,000.
Tiwari feels that the situation can now be salvaged and the farmers saved from certain suicide by increasing the exports from the existing quota of 5.5 million bales to 15 million cotton bales.
He said the farmers find the export restrictions shocking especially since there is a good demand for cotton in the world markets which Indian can exploit and help the farmers recover their losses of the past one decade.
'It is difficult to fathom why the export quota has not been hiked this year when last year 8.3 million cotton bales were exported,' Tiwari said.
The situation is particularly good this year with floods hitting cotton crops in China and Pakistan and crop areas slashed in the US, he said.