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Maharashtra remained the worst State due to farmers’ suicides

The Devendra Fadnavis’ government should look into the issues of farmers as their lives are in turmoil. These farmers do hard work in discomfort for our happiness. They stay in rural areas where they lack basic facilities. They are the backbone of the nation and the reason for our smiles. Maharashtra state has a lot of revenue, which it is wasting on petty things, same can be used to give them cheap rice at Re. 1 and monthly pension of Rs. 1000. Maharashtra coastal areas get flooded in monsoon whereas Vidarbha and Marathwada faced drought. Water should be utilised from these flooded coastal areas to remote areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada. The national river connection gird will somewhat can help in this cause, the plan which was started by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, later suspended in 2006 by UPA government, should be restarted again. I hope that the new government acts swiftly in farmers’ interest. At least, 17,368 Indian farmers killed themselves in 2009, the worst figure of farmers’ suicides in six years, according to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). This is an increase of 1,172 over the 2008 count of 16,196. It brings the total farmers’ suicides since 1997 to 2,16,500. The share of the Big 5 States, or ‘suicide belt’ — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — in 2009 remained very high at 10,765, or around 62 per cent of the total, though falling nearly five per cent in points from 2008. Maharashtra remained the worst State for farmers’ suicides for the tenth successive year, reporting 2,872 cases. Though there is a fall in 930 such cases from previous data, it is still 590 more than in Karnataka, second worst, which logged 2,282 farm suicides.

Maharashtra has logged 44,276 farmers’ suicides since 1997, over a fifth of the total 2,16,500. Within the Big 5, Karnataka saw the highest increase of 545 in 2009. Andhra Pradesh recorded 2,414 farm suicides — 309 more than in 2008. Madhya Pradesh (1,395) and Chhattisgarh (1,802) saw smaller increases of 16 and 29. Outside the Big 5, Tamil Nadu doubled its tally with 1,060, against 512 in 2008. In all, 18 of 28 States reported higher farmers’ suicides in 2009. Some, like Jammu and Kashmir or Uttarakhand, saw a negligible rise. Rajasthan, Kerala and Jharkhand saw increases of 55, 76 and 93. Assam and West Bengal saw higher rises of 144 and 295. NCRB farm data now exist for 13 years. In the first seven, 1997-2003, there were 1,13,872 farmers’ suicides, an average of 16,267 a year. In the next six years, 1,02,628 farmers took their lives at an average of 17,105 a year. This means, on average, around 47 farmers — or almost one every 30 minutes — killed themselves each day between 2004 and 2009.

A record 120 debt-ridden farmers are reported to have committed suicide in the drought-hit Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra. Sixty six years of independence and the governments (both central and state) have failed to protect farmers. Farmers’ suicide is a serious problem which Modi and BJP or even Congress and Pawar never understood and will never understand. The issue involves lending to farmers, the price that they get for their hard work besides rain and the supply of standard pesticides and fertilizers. The farmer reels under quite a few of these problems. While the PM goes abroad and speaks about different issues, Modi was promoting developments and shining Indian has failed to speak for farmers and also do anything that would alleviate their suffering. It’s a sad state of affairs. I am sure any voter will feel cheated to have such a government which focuses only on the rich and corporates. Government will have to intervene in the farmers’ debt by surveying the farmers and making suitable arrangements to relieve them of their burden of debt. One can’t simply stand to witness mass suicides of hardworking innocent people facing financial ruin and hopelessness. It has to be a 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 distress.

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. With five farmer suicides being reported from Vidarbha and Marathwada, the suicide toll has gone up to nine in less than a week. 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. In the past 24 hours alone, around two dozen farm folk have committed suicide, according to available figures. 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 that Maharashtra’s figure till that month would certainly be much more as many more suicides had been reported from the state after April. The suicide figure for the state between May and October is, 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.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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