Monday, December 15, 2008
In 2007, 4,238 Ryots Ended Life In State, 1,520 In VidarbhaYavatmal: The Union home ministry’s website displays the data of farmers’ suicides in 2007 and a close look into the available version indicates that Maharashtra tops the entire country with regard to the suicide of distressed farmers. According to the website, 16,632 farmers ended their lives in 2007 and Maharashtra had the highest figure of 4,238 of whom 1,520 are reported from Vidarbha region alone.
As a matter of fact, the Central government has granted a huge sum of Rs 3,750 crore in the form of the Prime Minister’s Special Package and the state government granted Rs 1,075 crore as Chief Minister’s package for the rehabilitation of the distressed farmers of Vidarbha. Now the billion dollar question is: Where had the fund from the special packages gone? And who is still responsible for unabated suicide?
A leading farm activist Kishor Tiwari, speaking to TOI, said that on an average 4,000 farmers committed suicide in last four years and 70% of these suicides have been reported from Vidarbha region alone.
While ridiculing the tall claim of the state government about the fall in suicides after the implementation of the special packages, the information of suicide figure given by a government agency —Vasantrao Naik Swawalamban Mission — shows an upward trend (in six worst-hit Vidarbha districts) in 2008 than in 2007 and the suicide figure from 2001 till December 10, 2008 is 5,142.
The government has constituted eight inquiry commissions/committees since 2004 and the reports have also been submitted from time to time. According to these reports, over 10 lakh farmers are distressed. Over one lakh families are deprived of proper health care facilities while 3.60 lakh families are facing the financial burden to meet the expenditure of their daughters’ marriage. Over 80% farmers, who are denied of the bank loan being defaulters, are forced to knock on the doors of the unscrupulous private money lenders and their greedy touts for meeting their urgent financial needs.
Tiwari urged the government to ensure “food, health and education security” to poor farmers in the region so that they can lead a dignified life as envisaged under the Constitution of India.
He demanded that the state should provide financial assistance to the poor and needy farmers for their daughters’ marriage and also ensure them of the facility for fresh crop loan at subsidised interest rate.
The Union home ministry’s website also shows an upward trend in the crime rate across the country vis-a-vis farmers’ suicide in the state. The current trend is that the suicide wave is speedily moving from western Vidarbha to eastern Vidarbha districts which may take an alarming situation in the days to come.
Tiwari further urged the chief minister Ashok Chavan to look into the matter seriously and come out with an effective action plan to curb it during the current winter session of the State Legislative Assembly in Nagpur.