Widows of distress-stricken farmers in Maharashtra are battling various odds to rebuild their lives but the study shows that the biggest of these is government apathy. The study conducted by various organisations under Kisan Mitra shows how governmental support is either completely missing or not enough.
Of the 59 widows, only six received the government’s compensation of Rs 1 lakh that was promising to families of distressed farmers who have committed suicide. Thirty-seven of these deaths were declared to be ‘ineligible’ suicides.
Red tape and bureaucracy ensued that 22 cases were rejected due to the presence of ‘alcohol’ in the bodies of farmers. Authorities concluded that alcohol was the reason of the death and that it was not suicide.
For some women, the financial assistance was paltry. One widow got Rs 7,000 while others got much less than the promised amount.
However, the state’s apathy isn’t restricted to financial support and the lack of it. The study found that the lack of financial assistant to rebuild their lives has affected the women more. None of the widows got any skill training for employment. The women, as part of the study, have said that they would want training for various purposes --- over one fourth wanted to be trained in farming, some in animal husbandry.
One in every three women wanted to start something on her own.
Even the government’s programmes for these women have not reached them. Only 12 of the 59 widows benefitted from schemes. Ten received widows’ pension and only one had received assistance for constructing a well.
Fourteen women had not received any sort of assistance from the government.
“We found that most of these women don’t even know about the schemes that the government has to offer. Even if they know, there are so many obstacles that the bureaucracy poses that it is extremely difficult for such women to fight all these themselves,” said Gajanan Kale, a member of Kisan Mitra.