Agri Business

As political parties joust for power, Maharashtra’s farmers continue to end their lives

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on November 12, 2019

A file picture of a farmer and his damaged paddy crop   -  -

Almost half the State’s kharif crop has been destroyed by unseasonal rains

Just a week ago, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray visited Dabhadi village in Maharashtra’s Nashik district to meet farmers affected by unseasonal rains.

Mohan Nikam was one of them. Unseasonal showers had destroyed his kharif crop and Nikam was shattered. Aaditya assured Nikam and other farmers that relief would reach them soon, and that they must not despair.

On Monday Nikam consumed poison to end his life as no help reached him. The poor farmer was worried about the survival of his family and the burden of debt.

Farmer suicides are not just limited to the Nashik division. Eight rain-affected farmers have ended their lives in the last three days in the Marathwada division and reports of more suicides are coming in regularly.

Amid the ongoing political power drama in Mumbai, party leaders across the spectrum had visited the affected farmers last week. With television cameras following them, leaders, including NCP President Sharad Pawar, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray and various Congress leaders visited the affected farmers and made many promises.

Now, while the leaders are back in Mumbai jousting for power, farmers have been left to struggle on their own.

Preliminary estimates suggest that standing crops on 54 lakh hectares have been damaged by the unseasonal rains. Outgoing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced immediate help of ₹10,000 crore to the affected farmers. But the aid has not reached them, the farmers say.

Government officials are still assessing the damage caused by the unseasonal rains. There is uncertainty about the decision- making process among officials as there is no government in place, said official sources.

Many parts of the State witnessed heavy spells of rain in October, damaging the kharif crop. Farmers claim that almost half the kharif cultivation has been damaged. The State has 149.74 lakh hectares under kharif (including sugarcane) and, by September, sowing on over 93 per cent of the land had been completed.

Interestingly, all the parties in the emerging powerplay — the NCP, the Congress, and the Shiv Sena — had promised to help the farmers during the election campaign.

While the Congress and the NCP had promised a complete loan waiver if elected to power, Uddhav Thackeray had said that his party wanted to make farmers ‘loan free’ rather than giving them a loan waiver. The Sena had also promised to provide an ‘aid’ of ₹10,000 to all farmers in Maharashtra.

Published on November 12, 2019

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