On Sunday, November 11, a farmer in Gujarat allegedly tried to kill himself by consuming pesticide at Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s event, in Pransali village of Gir Somnath district. CM Rupani was present to inaugurate the newly developed Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC). The farmer, who has been identified as Mashri Dodia of Dolasa village of Kodinar taluka in Gir Somnath district, allegedly consumed pesticide as soon as Rupani rose to address the public gathering after inaugurating the APMC.
Dodia complained that the authorities were failing to remove the encroachment from a community grazing land owned by the panchayat near his agricultural land. He also said that the land mafia was responsible for encroachment of this land, which had made his own farm inaccessible to him. He had reportedly earlier approached the CM seeking help, who had ordered that the encroachment be removed, but nothing was done. Even after he had made repeated appeals to the village’s panchayat authorities and the Taluka Development Officer (TDO), no measures were taken, which led him to take the decision to end his life.
He was rushed by the police to a government hospital in Veraval immediately after the incident, where his condition was declared as stable. Gir Somnath Superindent of Police Rahul Tripathi told the news agency PTI that someone had illegally captured a panchayat plot outside the agricultural land belonging to Dodia. “Orders had already been issued by the collector to remove the encroachment, but local authorities have not acted upon it,” he said.
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Six farmers have committed suicide in Gujarat in last 45 days, because of loan burden and crop failure due to a weak monsoon. On November 7, a 55-year-old farmer from Khakaria village in Amreli district allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison, marking the sixth farmer suicide since September 24. Inability to repay the loans he had taken led him to take this extreme step.
On October 30, Pitambar Zala, 36, a farmer from Sundernagar district allegedly killed himself by drinking pesticide. His crop yield was less than expected due to weak monsoon, and he feared that he won’t be able to repay his debts. On October 25, 41-year-old Rana Gaagia from Jamnagar district allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself to an electricity pole, because of crop failure and crush crunch.
On October 12, another farmer, Viram Odedara from Porbandar district allegedly committed suicide over similar issues. On October 7, Kalu Chauhan, 42, from Botad district allegedly committed suicide, worried that he would lose his crop because of the poor monsoon. On September 24, 35-year-old Anak Jabelia from Amreli district allegedly killed himself for the same reason.
Gujarat government has said that the state could face water scarcity in the coming months, as it has received just 76.72 per cent of the average rainfall this monsoon.
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According to a survey conducted by the Saurashtra Oil Millers Association, the groundnut yield for the season 2018-2019 is 48 per cent less compared to previous year’s yield. Though the government expects 27 lakh tonnes of groundnut production, the SOMA survey has estimated this number to be 13.05 lakh tonnes, and the farmers reportedly agree. In 2017-2018, the BJP government in the state had faced major flak due to its poor execution of groundnut purchase at minimum support price (MSP), which was necessary in the wake of the record groundnut production in the state. The drastic fall in groundnut harvest will badly affect export of oil and peanuts, and the government may face flak from the farmers again.
Groundnut cultivation requires four rounds of rainfall, but Gujarat has only received one round this monsoon, which led to major crop failure. This year, the income from groundnut has been reduced by 80 per cent compared to last year, because of the decrease in produce. This has also led the farmers to face severe debt crisis, further aggravating the anti-government sentiments among them. Several villages of Khambhaliya taluka in Devbhumi Dwarka district have put up boards warning BJP politicians against entering their villages until they have been declared scarcity-hit.
The villages are supposed to be declared scarcity-hit on the basis of the rainfall measured. However, the BJP government is using a discriminatory process. The villages where the majority of the residents voted against the ruling government have not been declared scarcity-hit. The farmers have also been demanding that the government start incentives to export groundnut oil.
This failure in groundnut crop might also lead to further increase in number of farmer suicides in the states.
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