When the chief secretary of Maharashtra, Johnny Joseph was claiming in a meeting at Nagpur on Saturday evening that the rate of farmers’ suicide has gone down this year, nine more farmers in Vidarbha region have ended their lives in last 24 hours.
According to reports reaching Nagpur on Sunday, three farmers from neighbouring Chandrapur district and one each from Washim, Wardha, Yavatmal, Gondia, Gadchiroli and Amravati had taken the drastic step. Most of them had committed suicide by swallowing pesticides while one of them ended his life by set afire himself.
The farmers who committed suicide in last 24 hours were identified as : Chindhu Kowe, Daroda (Wardha), Motiram Jamunkar, Raipur (Amravati), Linga Sosade of Pandharsad, Madhav Bode, Gadgaon, Balakdas Bawne of Yergaon (all in Chandrapur district), Yuvraj Bopche, Borgaon( Gondia), Jogiram Lohote, Kitali (Gadchiroli), Devidas Choudhari, Bhoyani( Washim) and Punjaram Shyamrao Kubde of Chondha (Yavatmal).
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti alleged that these farmers had taken the extreme step because of not getting loans from local banks being defaulters. Moreover, a large number of farmers mainly in Amravati district had to incur extra expenditure as they had to undertake a sowing for the second time after heavy rains washed away their nascent crop, Tiwari said.
He ridiculed the state government and its chief secretary for claiming that the farmers’ suicide was not only due to agrarian crisis. Of over 500 farmers, who had committed suicide in the six-agrarian crisis-hit districts of Vidarbha this year, families of only 85 were eligible for the government compensation. “If these farmers are not committing suicide because of the agrarian crisis, the government should come out the exact reasons for doing so,” he insisted.
The chief secretary Joesph, who came here on Saturday for reviewing the implementation of prime minister’s relief package claimed that the average rate of suicide in 2007 was less as compared to 2006. In 2006, the average rate of suicide was 60 per month while it was less than 15 this year, thanks to the relief packages, Joesph added. However, Tiwari said that hardly 5 per cent of the total money of both the packages only reached directly to the distressed farmers so far.
With the deaths of nine more farmers, the death toll has reached to 528 this year and 51 this month alone. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra unit of AICC has set up a three-member committee, headed by the former legislator, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani to find out the reasons for unrest among the farmers of Shivangaon in Nagpur on acquisition of their land for the proposed MIHAN and SEZ project.
One farm-labourer of Shivangaon even committed suicide this month in protest against the state government move. The Gidwani committee is reaching here on July 29 to interact with the farmers and other concerned authorities. The committee will submit its report to the party within a month.