Farmer suicides unabated in Vidarbha

613 cases of suicides so far this year

Gulf News

Mumbai: Following heavy rains that destroyed agricultural crops across the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra this monsoon, three more farmers killed themselves on the day of a farmers’ festival, taking the suicide figure to 613 in 2013.

“There is extreme distress among the five million debt-trapped farmers of this region who have lost everything in the recent floods and their future is bleak even as the festive season begins,” Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’ organisation, told Gulf News.

The worst affected is the tribal-dominated and backward Yavatmal district, which forms one of the 11 districts of Vidarbha, where the suicide of three tribal farmers — Nagorao Soyam of Pathari village, Sadashiv Kanake, Pimpalpur, and Mahadeo Surpam of Rajurwadi — was reported on Thursday.

It happened to be the day of Pola festival which is important to the farming community.

The suicides go unabated as on the eve of this festival a farmer-couple took their lives in Buldhana whilst earlier this week local newspapers reported the suicide of six farmers. Last week, it was reported that 24 farmers committed suicide in the Yavatmal district alone.

Tiwari has accused the state administration for not releasing “a single paisa as relief nor given farm credit even after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced a relief package of Rs20 billion. The administration is corrupt, hostile and has turned a blind eye to this genocide.”

His organisation has urged the immediate intervention of the Central government to tackle this pathetic situation since what is desperately needed is food, medical aid, fresh bank credit and ground level counseling for the farmers. “That is why we are starting a Sanvad Yatra, a journey to interact and discuss with the farmers, and cover villages where 200 farm suicides have been reported in the last three months.”

Video footage of public hearings and a ground report will be then sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the National Human Rights Commission for urgent intervention.

To stress how the magnitude of this human tragedy has been prevailing for years, he informed that 52 suicides were reported in Vidarbha in 2001 and then shot up year after year with the worst in 2006 when there were 1,448 suicides. Last year 916 farmers took their lives.

An angry Tiwari says that though Chavan has asked for a fresh survey, “the administration and babus (government officers) have not stepped out of their airconditioned offices until now nor visited a single family where a suicide has occurred.” Yavatmal’s farmers are facing heavy damages to main crops of cotton, soya, paddy and tur dal (a lentil), he added.

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