Lot more needs to be done to stop farmer suicides: Minister

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Facing criticism from its ally Shiv Sena over farmer suicides in the state’s drought-hit regions, Maharashtra government has admitted that a lot more needs to be done to stop such incidents.

The government is working towards increasing the agricultural productivity of farmers and some big measures will be announced in the state budget in their interest, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said.

“We have paid a total of Rs. 4,000 crore to farmers who have been reeling under drought conditions and those affected by hailstorm. We did not even wait for the Centre’s help. But a lot more needs to be done to stop suicides. We cannot expect that we pay money and suicides will stop within a month,” said Mungantiwar.

“What is required is their (farmers’) agricultural productivity increases. We need to ensure that farmers pay less on growing crops and that they get proper irrigation facilities. Their children too need to be taken care of. Once we are able to do that, suicide rate will go down,” he said.

Slamming the BJP, the Shiv Sena had said that while Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was busy clinching business deals and attracting investments in the state, it was “heart wrenching” that debt-ridden farmers of Vidarbha were committing suicide.

Mungantiwar exuded confidence that the government’s ambitious Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan (providing villages with permanent source of water) will go a long way in curbing suicides in the coming months.

“Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan has been initiated with an aim of providing water to farmers. Once they get enough water, they will not need to commit suicide. We will also be announcing some revolutionary measures in the budget session, that will increase productivity,” he said without disclosing the measures.