Drought in Gujarat has started taking its toll on farmers. As many as 11 farmers in Saurashtra region alone have committed suicide in last one month, even as the Narendra Modi government remains in denial.
“In seven districts of the region, almost 80% crop has failed. Very few farmers have irrigation facilities to sustain crops without rains. Narmada canals have not been built in the interiors,” said Ramnikbhai Patel, a farmer from Babra in Amreli district. He says, the cotton crop in his 15 acre farm dried, which pushed him to cultivate jowar for fodder.
“Saurashtra is, however, the worst hit because crops have already failed and, fodder and drinking water, too, are not available,” a senior secretary in the state government said.
Gujarat BJP president RC Faldu does not agree. “I don’t think farmers are committing suicide because of the state government’s action or lack of it,” he said. Agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani Sanghani echoes similar sentiments.
Meanwhile, junior home minister Praful Patel has reportedly instructed the police to not mention “crop failure as the reason for farmer suicides”.
The Congress has called this approach insensitive.
“Despite our constant demand, this shameless government is not doing anything to ease the situation,” said Gujarat leader of opposition and MLA from Bhavnagar Shaktisinh Gohil. “This government works only for certain industrialists.” He announced Rs 1-lakh aid for each of the 11 families.
The seven districts of Saurashtra have received only 25% of the season’s average rainfall this year. The situation is so grim that even BJP leaders are blaming the government. Says a BJP MP from Saurashtra: “A month back, it became clear that drought was imminent in the region, but the government seemed least bothered.” Drinking water is a severe problem in far-flung rural areas, he added.