The state government on Friday said 4,427 debt-ridden farmers in Vidarbha have committed suicide between 2001 and October 31, 2010.
Of these, 991 suicides were reported in 2009, relief and rehabilitation minister Patangrao Kadam said in a written reply to a question in the Assembly on Friday.
This is for the first time this year that the government has given an official number of farmers’ suicides.
Activists have been saying that the number of suicides is much higher than what the government claims.
Opposition leader Eknath Khadse and several other legislators asked the state if the number of farmers who had committed suicide in the last 11 years was 41,000 but the government maintained that the number was 4,427.
Kadam said 18 farmers in Wardha, Amravati and Yavatmal had killed themselves due to damaged crop and debt between August and October. He said the Centre was yet to clear a legislation that provides stringent measures against moneylenders exploiting farmers.
The government is also implementing two relief packages worth Rs 4,309 crore and Rs 1,365 crore, to prevent suicides.