Despite the claim of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh that farmers' suicide in Vidarbha have drastically come down this year, such deaths continue in the region. Three more farmers have ended their lives in the region in the last 24 hours.
In a letter, addressed to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week, Chief Minister Deshmukh had claimed that the number of farmers' suicide has reduced sharply in the wake of two relief packages of the government. However, the situation in the region is totally different.
According to reports reaching Nagpur on Saturday, one farmer each from Wardha, Bhandara and Akola had committed suicide in the last 24 hours. The victims were identified as Ravindra Gawande of Dhadi village in Wardha, Dulichand Turkar, and Sihora in Bhandara and Kisan Attarkar of Patur village in Akola district. Attarkar and Ravindra ended their lives by hanging themselves while Dulichand committed suicide by swallowing pesticide, reports said.
All of these farmers had borrowed loans from the banks and could not repay the loans in time. They feared being defaulters they would not get fresh loans in the coming kharif season and that might have led them to take the drastic step.
With the deaths of these three farmers, the toll has now touched 40 this month alone while the figure was 84 in the last month, 98 in March, 88 in February and 70 in January this year. As many as 856 farmers have killed themselves in the region since July last year.
Meanwhile, the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti Chief Kishore Tiwari, who has been documenting the farmers' suicide since 2002, termed the ruling coalition in the state as anti-farmer that miserably failed to end the tragedy. They pointed out that in the past three years of Vilasrao Deshmukh rule, over 2000 farmers had committed suicide in Vidarbha alone. "What has the Vilasrao Deshmukh done to stem suicides? Poor farmers continue to suffer from skyrocketing inputs' costs and poor minimum support prices. What has the government done to improve their lot?" he asked and alleged that both the central and state relief packages have done little to address the crippling debt crisis among the farmers. Both the packages were unrealistic and far from the real problems, he further pointed out.
Vijay Jawandhia, the former state Shetkari Sanghatana president reiterated that there was a need for a total waiving of farmers loans. Besides, a concrete assurance to farmers that they would get fresh loans in the coming kharif whether he or she is a defaulter to repay the bank loans to prevent the tragedy. Moreover, there is a need for a food security of these distressed farmers, he added.
Pradip Kumar Maitra