Barely two months into the new year, and already 117 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra's Marathwada region in 2017. Though last year's monsoon was above average in Maharashtra, the spate of farmers ending their lives has continued across the state, and especially in the agrarian belt of Marathwada.
A report in The Times of India said the highest number of farmer suicides was in Beed, the home town of Maharashtra rural development minister Pankaja Munde, with 23 cases, while Nanded followed shortly behind with 22. It also said financial compensation was provided to 46 cases out of 117, while 13 were denied and 58 proposals are being processed.
Farmer leader and head of a state-level task force for farmers' welfare, Kishore Tiwari, said measures taken by the state government weren't enough. "We'll have to redraft our strategy to halt farmer suicides," he was quoted as saying in the report. "We will have to provide remunerative prices for agriculture produce, along with market intervention. In addition, the government will also have to work out a plan to provide education to farmers' children and financial assistance for healthcare," he added.
While the figure of 117 farmers committing suicide in just about two months might seem staggering, it still does denote a drop from the statistics for the previous years. In 2016 and 2015, two years in a row, there were over 1,000 farmers who killed themselves. According to a report in The Indian Express, a total of 1,003 farmers killed themselves by December 2016. This followed a 2015 when 1,130 farmers committed suicide in a 12-month period. The report also mentioned Munde's home district Beed witnessing the highest number of farmer suicides in both calendar years. Meanwhile, Osmanabad, which had been picked as a "zero farmer suicide" district by the state government, witnessed over 200 suicides in 16 months.
Beed district collector Naval Kishore Ram was quoted by the report as saying farm distress was not the only reason responsible for farmer suicides. "Investigations have revealed that there are other causes like domestic issues for farmer suicides. But whatever may be the cause, every suicide of a farmer is worrisome for us. We are making efforts to bring down the suicide rate. Compared to 2015 (which was a drought year), suicides this year in Beed are certainly down by more than 30 percent (in 2016)," he said.
Meanwhile, the Budget Session of Maharashtra legislature started from Monday onwards, and the Opposition is likely to press the Devendra Fadnavis government to announce a full loan waiver for farmers. According to a report in The Asian Age, leaders of all parties met the governor on Sunday and requested him to instruct the government to waive off farmer loans.
Shiv Sena minister Ramdas Kadam said, "We have demanded relief for farmers. If Narendra Modi could promise loan waiver in UP then why is the CM not doing the same for Maharashtra? He should go to Delhi and get the PM’s clearance for this."
Not too long ago, Uddhav Thackeray, executive president of Shiv Sena, which supports the Fadnavis government in the state, had said that the support of his party is dependent on the loan waiver.
Updated Date: Mar 07, 2017 14:51 PM