The festive spirit and joy in the ongoing celebration of Ganesh festival seems to have dampened a bit.
Prayers for peace and prosperity to the presiding deity of Maharashtra notwithstanding, the vagaries of nature are aggravating the distress of Vidarbha’s farmers.
Seven more farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha in the last 72 hours.
According to reports reaching Nagpur on Thursday, among the victims, three were from Akola, two from Yavatmal and one each from Washim and Wardha districts. The deceased farmers were identified as: Samrat Pagare (64) of Palsod, Ramkrishna Navalkar (60), Alanda, Madhukar Shinde (58), Khandala (all from Akola district), Shivaji Kale (32), Shirdi (Washim), Shankar Bodhhole (33), Bandu Pinge (35), Adegaon, and Dhabaji Kale (55), Ganeshpur (both Yavatmal district).
The farmers were depressed because of damaging of crops following the incessant rains in the region over the past few days. Crop damage meant no income, which in turn, meant no money to repay loans borrowed from private moneylenders and banks.
"Apprehensive with the prospect of non-payment of loans and not getting fresh loans left these farmers thoroughly depressed. Apart from this, the resultant inability to sustain the family and failing to cope up with the needs of the family added to their fears," said Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti that has been documenting farmers’ suicide in the region.
With the deaths of these farmers, the toll has reached 16 this month while the figure was 48 last month.
Shravan Hardikar, the district collector of Yavatmal, admitted that two farmers committed suicide because of agrarian crisis. "We are concerned about such deaths. The banking institutions have disbursed around Rs 700 crore crop loans to needy farmers in this kharif season. Agrarian crisis apart there are socio-economic and personal reasons driving farmers to take such a drastic step," he said.
Tiwari said that the government should take the issue very seriously and provide food security to distressed farmers.
"It is a case of genocide. The state is allowing the distressed farmers to end their lives. We have time and again demanded that the marginal farmers and farm widows should be given facilities accorded to BPL families so that at least they can get the food security. This can only prevent further suicide in the region," he said.
Untimely rainfall, crops failure, expensive healthcare, and rise in agro-input costs to the lure latest consumer durables etc have led to the financial misery of the people.
The situation is so severe that an average two farmers commit suicide in the region every day.
Farmer suicides in VIdarbha region -- yearwise
2011 (Till September 8): 438
Impact of rain
Heavy rains over the last couple of days threw normal life completely out of gear in several districts of eastern Vidarbha.
The incessant rains have damaged crops, overflowing of nullahs and rivulets, cut off some parts of the region and caused loss of life. The rains claimed the life of a farmer in neighbouring Bhandara district.
The farmer, Bhagwan Dhande (40) of Seloti village, who was returning from his field, was swept away when he tried to cross a nullah on Wednesday evening.
Reports reaching here on Thursday said that over 60 per cent area of backward Gadchiroli district were cut off from rest of the country. The Shankarpur river is in spate.
The busy Wadsa-Kurkheda road has submerged under flood waters of the river cutting off northern Gadchiroli from rest of the country. Many low lying areas are water logged following heavy rains in Bhandara, Gondia, and Chandrapur districts.
Situation is worse in Arjuni Morgaon where 137 villagers from Pushpnagar were shifted to safer place. People were also moved to Zilla Parishad’s primary school at Keshori.
Villagers of Pushpnagar, Khodda and Wadegaon Bandya in Arjun Morgaon tehsil in Gondia district are surrounded by water from Gadvi river and an overflowing Itiadoh dam.
The water weir at Itiadoh dam is overflowing by 5 feet.
As per the preliminary reports, a number of houses and cattle sheds were damaged in different districts in the region due to incessant rains.