It was an endless wait for sisters of four different families, who, like every year, looked forward to the arrival of their brothers with sweets, rakhi and vermillion on Rakshabandhan. But fate had planned otherwise. They, all from different parts of western Vidarbha, waited for their brothers who were cotton farmers. These four farmers committed suicide due to sudden crop failure.
According to reports reaching here on Wednesday, the victims were identified as: Ramdas Pawar of Chirkuta (Yavatmal), Madan Andale, Pimpalgaon (Amravati), Prakash Kokate of Gaigaon and Dadarao Mankar, Hiwarkhed (both Akola). While Ramdas ended his life by swallowing poison, Dadarao and Prakash committed suicide by hanging themselves. Madan Andale killed himself by jumping into a well. All the victims have ended their lives because of huge debts and agrarian crisis. With the deaths of these farmers, the toll has risen to 7 this month while the figure was 36 last month.
According to Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti which has been documenting farmers’ suicide since 2001, as many as 288 farmers killed themselves this year while the figure was 784 last year. In 2007, as many as 1044 farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha region, it claimed.
Kishore Tiwari of the Samiti informed that all traditional cotton growers were under huge debt and lost standing crops after the dry spell of rain and pest attack. Drought may bring acute drinking water problem, food and health crisis. Administration should act fast to stop innocent victimization of distressed cotton farmers. The state should immediately provide food security, employment and debt reconstruction to bail out the debt-ridden farmers of Vidarbha, insisted Tiwari.
The delayed monsoon arrival and irregular showers in June and 15 days dry spell as there is no rain in most of part of Vidarbha has created serious panic among farmers as if there are no showers in next seven days then there will server drought this year.
The samiti sent a memorandum to the chief minister Ashok Chavan in this regard, urging to bail out the crisis-ridden farmers who are facing drought-like situation in the region.