New Delhi: More than 800 farmers commited suicide in Maharashtra upto April this year. Of these, 200 suicides took place in the month of April itself, according to data accessed by the Mirror Now through an RTI. The report cited government data in the RTI reply saying that almost 12,000 farmers commited suicide between 2015 and the end of 2018 in the state, the highest in India.
As per the report, every day more than eight farmers are commiting suicide in Maharashtra. It points out that the prime issues leading farmers to take this extreme step is mostly related to debt and drought. Almost 25,000 villages in the state are suffering due to a serious water crisis, according to the state government data.
The Vidarbha region witnessed the maximum number of suicides, followed by the Aurangabad region. During the previous rainy season, Vidarbha and Marathwada received 10mm and 16mm rain,respectively, which is almost 85% below the normal rainfall.
The report points out that the measures taken by the state government have not had much of an impact on the crisis-hit farmers. In 2017, the Maharashtra government announced a ₹34,000 crore mega loan waiver scheme, yet the spate of suicides has not subsided, with 4,500 more farmer suicides reported. In addition, there were allegations by various farmer organisations that those who got benefits of the scheme were not the most backward sections among farmers.
When it comes to drought, too, the state governments’ policy-level initiatives have not offered any solution to farmers to overcome the crisis, says the report. The Maharashtra governments’ water conservation scheme, Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan, aimed at creating a drought-free Maharashtra in 2019, seems an utter failure. One reason for this is that the policy is completely dependent on rain water conservation, and the state has seen a sharp decrease in rainfall in the past three years.
Also read: https://www.newsclick.in/Maharashtra-Farmers-Road-Again
Due to the continuous distress during these past four years, farmers in the tribal region, under the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), held various protests against the state government. On March 6, 2018, the Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha held a ‘Long March’ of over 50,000 farmers from Nashik to Mumbai, raising various issues including drought relief, farm loan waiver, remunerative prices and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations. Following this, the government publicly agreed to address the issues raised by the farmers. A year has gone by but the government is yet to keep its word.
After the Kisan Long March in 2018, senior journalist P. Sainath wrote in Peoples’ Archive of Rural India that “Between 1995 and 2015, going by the National Crime Records Bureau, close to 65,000 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra. That’s more than a fifth of the total of over 300,000 across the country in the same period. That surely played a role in the decisive rout of the long-ruling Congress–Nationalist Congress Party government in the state in 2015. The BJP government has predictably made things worse – and cooked the suicide data even more aggressively than its predecessor.”
All the data and reports prove that both the state governments (Congress-NCP and BJP), which follow a neo-liberal economic policy, have failed to address the crisis in agriculture sector.
Also read: https://www.newsclick.in/farmers-maharashtra-continue-their-movement