The killing fields of Vidarbha continue to shed blood, with 13 farmers committing suicide since Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on December 16 had announced a whopping Rs 10,512 crore relief package for the farmers of the state.
According to reports, the farmers who took the extreme step were from Yavatmal and Amravati — two cotton-producing districts — and three others were from Bhandara, the rice bowl of the state. Two others hailed from the Wardha and Buldhana districts in western Vidarbha.
One of the farmers, Vishal Pawar from Yavatmal district, ended his life after writing a letter to the district guardian minister Sanjay Rathod, in which the 38-year-old cotton grower mentioned the burden of crop failure, debts and expressed his last wish — that crop loans be waived.
Pawar was reportedly depressed after his crops failed for three consecutive years and the burden of loan repayment.
With the recent deaths, the number of farmers who have ended their lives has risen to 43 in December so far, while the figure for November was 63.
As many as 744 farmers have ended their lives in the region since January. Kishore Tiwari, a farmers’ leader who was recently appointed as the head of the state-run agricultural mission, said the waiving of loans was not a permanent solution.
“We demand the restoration of credit and a guarantee that farmers will get crop loans, even when they cannot repay the loans because of possible crop failure or other natural calamities,” he said
Tiwari said the government’s package would reap long-term dividends, but there was a pressing need for immediate financial assistance to distressed farmers.