Nagpur: Two 'Krishi Bhushan' awardee farmers from Vidarbha region returned their awards to the state government on Friday in protest against its "failure" to curb farmers' suicides and due to their "mounting debts".
Moreshwar Zhade, 70, from Wadona and Hemant Shendre, in his 50s, from Sawargaon, both in Chimur taluka in Chandrapur district, returned their awards along with medals and certificates to Additional Divisional Commissioner, Hemant Pawar, at the Commissionerate.
On Wednesday, they had declared their decision to return the awards. They had said they were "taking this step in protest against government's failure to check suicides by agriculturists".
"We had won the prizes for increasing productivity. But over the years our incomes have shrunk leaving us under debt, burden and poverty," they had said.
The Vidarbha region in the eastern Maharashtra has reported a number of suicides by farmers over the years.
According to the state government, as many as 1000 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2015.
The Joint Director, Agriculture, V N Ghawate and Deputy Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Dange requested them not to return the awards, but in vain.
Zhade, who holds 15 acres of farmland, had received the 'Sheti Nishtha' award for good farming practices. In 2002, he was given 'Krishi Bhushan' award by the state agriculture department.
Shendre had won 'Sheti Nishtha' and 'Krishi Bhushan' awards in 2004 and 2010 respectively.
Shetkari Sanghatana leaders Ram Newale, Srinivas Khandewale, Arun Kedar, Shyam Wagh, Nanda Parate and other activists were present on the occasion.