Con­trary to state claim, farmer deaths spike; Marath­wada on top

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - NATION - Suren­dra P Gan­gan

FARM­ERS IN MARATH­WADA ARE SUF­FER­ING OW­ING TO DE­FI­CIENT MON­SOON THREE YEARS IN A ROW.

Farmer sui­cides in drought-hit Marath­wada re­gion have seen a sharp rise in the first three months of the year, with fa­tal­i­ties sur­pass­ing those in the neigh­bour­ing Vi­darbha district. Con­trary to the state govern­ment’s claims, there has also been no sign of farmer sui­cides re­duc­ing across the state.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the re­lief and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion de­part­ment, 273 farmer sui­cides were re­ported from Marath­wada in the first three months of 2016, 59 more deaths com­pared to last year. Vi­darbha, on the other hand, has re­ported 264 sui­cides from Jan­uary to March as against 333 dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

In Ma­ha­rash­tra, 657 farm­ers killed them­selves from Jan­uary to March this year while dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2015, 645 farm­ers had com­mit­ted sui­cide. The to­tal num­ber of farmer fa­tal­i­ties last year was 3,228.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts and of­fi­cials in­volved in droughtre­lief oper­a­tions, farm­ers in Marath­wada are suf­fer­ing ow­ing to de­fi­cient mon­soon three years in a row.

The state govern­ment, how­ever, claims the num­ber of sui­cides in the past three months has re­duced. Rev­enue min­is­ter Ek­nath Khadse had in­formed the leg­isla­tive Assem­bly dur­ing the bud­get ses­sion that var­i­ous sur­veys had proved that the sui­cide rate in dis­tricts such as Yeot­mal and Os­man­abad had re­duced. Last week, chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis too had said the re­duced rate of sui­cides was the re­sult of ef­fi­ciency shown by govern­ment staff.

Vi­jay Jawamb­hia, agri­cul­ture ex­pert, said, “What­ever the govern­ment claim is, the fact re­mains that the sit­u­a­tion of farm­ers has wors­ened. With ris­ing debt, farm­ers are wor­ried about how they will raise money for next year’s seeds, even if it rains bet­ter this year.”

A se­nior of­fi­cial from the re­lief and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion de­part­ment ad­mit­ted that the govern­ment would have to pay more at­ten­tion to the is­sue, es­pe­cially in Marath­wada. “We have launched two pi­lot projects in two Vi­darbha dis­tricts to re­duce the sui­cides and we have got pos­i­tive out­come. We will now have to con­cen­trate on Beed, Latur and Os­man­abad – the three worst-hit dis­tricts,” he said.

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