Drought, debt, misery, distress and death sway around the lives in Marathwada in the West-Central state of Maharashtra.
According to latest reports, as many as 900 farmer suicides were reported across the eight districts of Marathwada region over last ten months — between January and October this year.
Statistics, provided by Aurangabad divisional commissioner, suggest that the number of farmer suicides are raising up year after year. Last year, 700 farmer suicides were reported during the same time span. In 2013 and 2014, when a total of 600 suicides were reported in Marathwada. And between 2006 and 2012, less than 400 farmer suicides were reported on a yearly basis, the Indian Express reported.
The year 2015 marked with the highest number of farmer suicides — 1,133 from January to December — in 10 years.
Scanty rainfall during monsoon makes the region the driest, leading to drastic drought and decline in farming in the area, which eventually leave farmers with no option but to kill themselves to get away from the debt and distress.
The region has been in the clutches of severe drought in the last four years — two during the Congress-NCP regime and two during the BJP-Sena-RPI government.
The number of suicides in Osmanabad, an area under the “zero-suicide district” plan, has also gone up drastically —136 between August 2014 and August 2015 to 172 between August 2015 and August 2016, the statistics suggest.
They spoke about zero suicides and look what shocking figures have emerged in Osmanabad. It is a telling commentary on the Devendra Fadnavis government’s failure to save the lives of farmers,Sachin Sawant, Congress spokesperson
Lashing out the BJP-led Fadnavis government, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said that the government only “makes tall claims” but not committed to implementing it.
If more than 1,000 farmer suicides have taken place in two years in Marathwada, it shows the complete failure of the government in taking care of the farmersPrithviraj Chavan
However, the state government maintained that it had adopted several plans to check farmer suicides, but a turnaround would take time.
Given the magnitude of the crisis, the state government has resorted to several desperate measures. The state is mulling to offering rice and wheat at ₹ 2/kg and ₹ 3/kg to farmer families along with critical health care benefits, crop insurance, counselling and guidance.
Surgeries for critical ailments like heart and kidney problem are being performed free of cost in government hospitals and empanelled private hospitalsNaval Kishore Ram, Beed district collector
Mass counselling and guidance programmes for farmers have also been planned.
“This is being done by expert doctors. First we identify farmers who are mentally disturbed due to various reasons. We call them for counselling with experts,” said Kishore Ram, who also claimed that farmer suicides are not just due to crop failure or mounting debts.
There are several factors behind their suicide. It could be family pressure or illnessPrashant Narnavare, Osmanabad district collector
The current problem started in 2011 when the area had received below average rainfall. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, we again had about 50 per cent deficit monsoon. Freak hailstorms during February-March in 2014 and 2015 destroyed the standing rabi), crops.
In 2014-15, deficit monsoon and unseasonal rains lead to a decline in the production of food grains, cereals and pulses—24.9 per cent, 18.7 per cent and 47.0 per cent respectively over the previous year. Production of fruits and vegetables also decreased by nearly 15 percent.
The Economic Survey of Maharashtra 2015-16 says that during the 2015 Kharif season, sowing was completed on 14 million hectares of area in the state, which is six percent less than the previous year. This is expected to result in an 18 percent decline in the production of foodgrains and two per cent in oilseeds production for Kharif crops. The area under rabi crops is also expected to decrease by 16 percent as compared to the previous year resulting in an expected decline of 27 percent and 50 percent in foodgrains and oilseeds production respectively.
With inputs from a Down to Erath and the Indian Express