Seven farmers have committed suicide in several villages of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region since Thursday.
The deceased were identified as Baburao Rawte, Pramod Potrajwar, Wasaram Rathod and Ramrao Khokle (all from Yavatmal district), Sanjay Gawande (Washim) and Vinod Mahakulkar and Suresh Ambarwele (both from Wardha district).
Bothbodan village sarpanch Balasaheb Chavan, where Rathod ended his life by swallowing poison on Thursday, said that the desperate farmer had five acres of land and most of his crops, particularly raw cotton and soyabean, were destroyed in unseasonal heavy rains this kharif season.
“Since the crops failed, he couldn’t pay the Rs 2 lakh loan taken from banks and private money lenders. He was depressed because no one would lend again to a defaulter,” Chavan said.
According to Chavan, Rathod was the 24th victim of agrarian crisis in the village since 2005.
“The farmers suicides continue in the village despite the discourses of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and a visit by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,” he added.
Chavan said the government has done nothing to stop farmers from taking the desperate step.
“Farmers are not getting crop loans from banks and crops do not fetch them good prices,” he said.
In Yavatmal, where four suicides have been reported in the past 24 hours, more than 200 farmers ended their lives since January this year.
Resident collector Yavatmal Rajendra Deshmukh said as many as 205 farmers from the district have committed suicide because of the agrarian crisis so far this year.
No official confirmed what led to the fresh round of suicides.
With the deaths of these seven farmers, the toll has risen to 43 this month. In October, 74 farmers killed themselves.
As many as 700 farmers have committed suicide due to crippling debts and crop failure since January this year in Vidarbha region, said Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti that has been documenting farmers’ suicides in the region.
“The state and central governments are very casual about the issue and do not seem interested in formulating a long-term policy to prevent farmer suicides,” said Tiwari.
About 1.98 lakh farmers committed suicide in India between 2001 and 2012 as the benefits of high growth failed to trickle down to the rural areas, says the India Rural Development Report 2012-13 released in September this year.
Indebtedness and lenders confiscating land have been attributed as the main causes of the farmers’ deaths.
About two-thirds of the farmer suicides were reported from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.