The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh approved waiver of farm loans up to Rs. 1 lakh, fulfilling a major election promise made by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). According to state government sources, the decision will benefit 2.25 crore farmers and is likely to cost the state exchequer Rs. 36,000 crore. During the election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that writing off farm loans would be among the foremost task of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. According to government data, 2.15 crore of the 2.30 crore farmers in UP are in the ‘small and marginal’ category. Most of these farmers were unable to repay loans worth Rs. 62,000 crore after crop losses due to natural calamities. Loans up to Rs. 1 lakh would be waived and farmers would get Rs. 10 per quintal more than the Minimum Support Price (MSP). However, fearing similar demands from other states, the Centre has said, it will not bear the financial burden of a waiver.
As the Congress-NCP led Opposition strengthened its demand for a farm-loan waiver following Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath’s decision to write off loans, there is lots of pressure on CM Fadanvis as the farmers in the state are in distress for many reasons — falling prices of their produce, unseasonal rains, hailstorm and acute water crisis. As per statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau, farmer suicides in the country rose by 42 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
Farmers in Maharashtra have faced two consecutive droughts and the recent unseasonal showers have damaged yield in parts of Marathwada. The problem of farmers’ suicide is worsening in Maharashtra, with the number of such deaths increasing in the last two years after the BJP-led government came to power, following are the year-wise figures of farmer suicides in recent years: 1296 in 2013; 1981 in 2014 and 3228 in 2015. From January 1 to June 2016, 2,053 farmer suicide cases have been reported, with Amaravati division leading with 692 cases. Many suicides are not taken into account where causes are mental illness, alcohol addiction or family problems. The government only announces measures to stop the suicides but turns a deaf ear to farmers’ problem after that.
The last national farm loan waiver was done by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in 2008 which had announced a scheme for 50 million farmers, costing the exchequer Rs. 65,000 crore. Finally, the Farmers from Maharashtra are scheduling a ‘strike’ from June 1 in a bid to draw the state government’s attention to their problems. The farmers’ demands include loan waiver, free electricity, appropriate price for their produce, grant for irrigation and higher price for milk.
Rise in farmers’ suicide increasing year after year but nobody is bothered about it. It is time to prove our worth. I hope BJP government will acts swiftly to protect Kisan of the state.
A record 120 debt-ridden farmers are reported to have committed suicide in last month in the drought-hit Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra. After 70 years of Independence, governments (both in central and state) failed to protect farmers. Farmer’s suicide is a serious problem which politicians like PM Modi or Pawar who is known as farmer’s friendly have understands it. Neither any other politicians from BJP or Congress tried to understand it. The issue involves the price that they get for their hard work besides rain and the supply of standard pesticides and fertilizers.
Government must intervene in the farmers’ debt issue by surveying the ‘annadata’ and make suitable arrangements to relieve them of their burden. One cannot simply stand to witness mass suicides of hardworking innocent people facing financial ruin and hopelessness. It has to be the part of the welfare system of the country. Easy accessible bank loans must be available to farmers on special reduced interest rates and arrangements to extend payments time, if an unforeseen circumstance develops for any individual farmer. There can also be a philanthropic trust fund by contributions from benevolent people, to come to aid of farmers in financial stress.
The Bharatiya Janata Party in the state, which has sought a Rs. 4500 crore drought-relief package from the Centre, has exhorted farmer to desist from suicide. Changing weather patterns in the region, that has triggered a vicious cycle of poor crop yield and mounting indebtedness, has led to more than 240 farmers taking their lives in six districts in Marathwada alone. The maximum deaths have been reported of farmers cultivating cotton and soyabean besides other cash crops and fruits – raised in over five million hectares – which have been destroyed in the drought.
Maharashtra continues to face the challenge of dealing with rising cases of farmers’ suicide. It has reported 204 such suicides in the first four months of the year – which is nearly half of what the state had reported in the entire year in 2013. Other states’ data are mostly updated till October, showing the Maharashtra’s figure till that month would certainly be much more. The suicide figure for the state between May and October 2016 was, however, not available with the Centre. Though, the government remained silent over the exact reasons which might have forced farmers to take such drastic steps, it indicated the possibility of “agriculture indebtedness” being the primary factor behind such suicides.
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