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Farmer suicides continue in Marathwada even as politicians promise sops ahead of polls

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on October 16, 2019 Published on October 16, 2019

A farmer shows withered banana crop in his farm. Severe drought and soaring temperature at Rohital village in Beed district, Marathwada, have played havoc (file photo)   -  Akella Srinivas

The State government has said that 12,021 farmers committed suicide during 2015-18

Amidst the State election campaign cacophony, death of farmer Eknath Shendge (40) went unnoticed. The farmer from drought hit Marathwada hanged himself on Monday, leaving a suicide note saying that he was dejected with frequent crop failures and droughts. Unable to pay the loan he had taken from a private money lender, Shendge ended his life. But it is not Shendge alone. Farmer suicides continue in Marathwada even as political parties promise loan waivers and sops after elections.

The BJP-led Maharashtra government had earlier admitted in the State Legislative Council that 12,021 farmers had committed suicide during its four-year regime (2015-18). The cases of suicides continue in 2019. The State government claimed to provide relief to farmers by launching various welfare schemes, including loan waiver. The State government announced a ₹34,000-crore loan waiver scheme in June 2017. However, data analyses by the BusinessLine earlier showed that 4,500 farmers had committed suicide even after the loan waiver scheme.

Compared to 12,000 farmer suicides during the BJP-Shiv Sena regime, over 6,268 farmer-suicide cases were registered in Maharashtra from January 2011 to December 2014, during the Congress–Nationalist Congress Party rule according to information provided by the State government to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“The situation of farmers has become bad to worse. No political party or politicians are serious towards resolving agrarian crisis in the drought hit region” said Varsha Saware a women farmer from Buldhana district where a 35-year-old farm widow Ujjwala Dhoke ended her life by jumping into a well with her four minor daughters.

Drought hits jobs

“Due to insufficient rainfall, water crisis is severe in a city like Latur. Migration to Pune and Mumbai continues as there are no jobs here. Huge number of people are dependent on tankers. But no one is talking about these issues in election campaign. Despite various schemes and promises, there is no change on the ground” said a Latur-based activist Vikas Kamble. He added that water conservation projects and scheme are a must for the region. However, politicos are more interested in big projects like water grid.

Activists and workers in Marathwada say that the MGNREGA scheme in the drought-hit region is being hijacked by politicians who have purchased machineries to complete the work even as the scheme is meant to provide work to people.

The BJP is banking on its water grid project to attract voters, while Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have promised another loan waiver if elected to the power. Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thakceray has said that his party wants to make farmers ‘loan free’ rather than giving the loan waiver. Sena also wants to provide ‘aid’ of ₹10,000 to farmers.

Published on October 16, 2019
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