Farmers in the killing fields of Vidarbha will have a new ray of hope on March 2 when a parliamentary committee, headed by veteran CPM leader Vasudev Acharya, visits the region to study the agrarian crisis and the impact of relief packages.
The 31-member panel, during their two-day visit to Yavatmal, Wardha and Nagpur, will speak to the farmers, district implementation officers and the representatives of different farmers’ organizations. The committee will also hold public hearings in these places.
The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had announced a special bailout package of Rs 3750-crore for the crisis-ridden farmers of Vidarbha while the state pumped over Rs 5,000-crore for the distressed farmers time to time. However, these packages failed to stem the farmers’ suicide so far.
According to the reports reaching here on Saturday, two more farmers have ended their lives because in the last 24 hours in the region. They have been identified as Pandurang Meshram (64) of Karanwadi in Yavatmal district and Jemlal Dila (50), a farmer from Shirpur-Bandh in Gondia district. Meshram hanged himself while Jemlal committed suicide by swallowing pesticide.
“Crippled with debts, both of these marginal farmers could not repay the crop loans this season due to crop failure and were scared that they would not get fresh loans in the ensuing kharif season. This frustration led them to take the extreme step,” claimed Kishore Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, a farm pressure group which has been documenting farmers’ suicides since 2001.
With the deaths of these farmers the toll has risen to 13 this month while the figure was 37 last month. As many as 918 farmers from Vidarbha region ended their lives because of agrarian crisis in 2011, Tiwari pointed out. With an alarming rise in the farmers’ suicide in the region, Tiwari demanded immediate intervention of the PMO in this regard.
According to Tiwari, in Yavatmal 35 farmers’ suicides in 2010 were approved for government compensation and this figure has touched 76 in 2011. As many as 2332 farmers committed suicides in Yavatmal district alone since 2000 and of them only 714 were found eligible for compensation.
The figures are really very alarming and the prime minister should provide a long-term solution to the crisis, said Tiwari.
Despite special packages and loan waiver, nothing has changed on the ground and dry-land farmers have very little hope to get remunerative price and make agricultural activity sustainable, he further said.