The visiting Parliamentary committee on agriculture to the suicide-prone areas of Vidarbha agreed with what's been a unanimous feeling in the region on the issue of farmers' suicide. The committee headed by veteran MP Basudev Acharya termed the spiraling suicides by farmers as 'national shame'. What made his statement more ironical was suicide by a farmer Sunil Ganesh Vasake, a 37-year-old farmer from Chachora Ralegaon, of Yavatmal district, ahead of his visit in the region.
At a public hearing at Maregaon in Yavatmal district, one of the worst-hit areas of the region, Acharya said it was unending farmers suicides were a blot on the country even after 65 years of independence.
"We are unable to understand how the state failed to prevent farmers to take the extreme steps despite several relief packages, including a whopping Rs 3,750-crore bailout package by the Prime Minister," he said.
Several farmer widows narrated their woes before the committee and urged them to raise the issue before the Parliament so that a permanent solution is found.
Aparna Malikar (27), a young farm-widow, pointed out to a drastic increase in the cost of agro-input. The farmers, particularly the cotton growers, were not getting remunerative price of their produce. "The government should provide agro-inputs, including seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides on subsidised rates and ensure that the farmers get remunerative prices for their produce," she appealed. If such steps were not taken, Malikar warned, the killing fields of Vidarbha would continue to witness farmers ending life.
Malikar of Vara-Kawatha village in Yavatmal district who shot to fame after winning Rs 6-lakh on KBC -- the popular TV quiz show last year -- and spoke about the problems faced by the farmers and women in Vidarbha. Malikar's husband Anil committed suicide because of agrarian crisis three years ago.
Acharya and other committee members assured the gathering that they would raise the issue before the Parliament and ensure steps to end farmers' suicides. "We are pained to hear the plight of farmers of the region. We will find out the reasons and come out with solution so that such things should not be repeated," he assured.
Raising the issue before the committee, Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti that has been documenting the farmers' suicide since 2001 said that the region has been witnessing spate of suicides since 1997. The state as well as the union government came out with several relief packages to bailout the distressed farmers. However, these packages failed to stem the suicides. As many as 918 farmers ended their lives last year while around 70 farmed killed themselves since January this year because of agrarian crisis. "The situation is so severe that at least two farmers commit suicide in the region every day," he further said.