16 Maharashtra farmers commit suicide in a week
Unseasonal rains hit cultivators' hopes
Mumbai: Sixteen farmers including a woman ended their lives last week in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region where an agrarian crisis has brought despair and extreme distress to over 2 million farming families.
"The tragedy among these families is so great that we have written to Sonia Gandhi, United Progressive Alliance convenor, to draw her attention to this crisis that has forced over 216,000 farmers to commit suicide in India since 1997," Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti or people's revolutionary council, a body that represents farmers, told Gulf News by telephone from Nagpur.
He adds that these are the official figures of the federal government with the majority of the suicides occurring in the dry regions.
"Imagine the condition of the families left behind by these farmers who were the bread winners," he says. A majority of the farmers are from Yavatmal district and the rest from Washim, Amravati, Nagpur, Wardha and Akola. If it wasn't the failure of monsoons in the last few years that brought on successive crop failures, unseasonal rains in the last two to three days in the cotton growing region has further crashed the hopes of farmers."Though the Maharashtra government has officially declared drought in 20,000 villages, there is no money being made available for drought measures by the government," he says.
Since the farmers are said to be food producers, they do not come under the public distribution scheme through which rationed foodstuffs are provided to the poor, he adds. Most of Vidarbha's farmers grow cash crops, that is cotton, he adds. Lack of relief and work has resulted in migration of farmers and the ground situation is worse than in June 2006.