Suicide by debt-ridden farmers in Vidarbha region continues unabated. Nine more farmers have taken their lives in last 48 hours, taking the death toll of farmers in this month to 25.
Of these nine, three hailed from Buldhana, two each from Yavatmal and Washim and one each from Amravati and Wardha district.
The victims were identified as : Baban Sirsat of Eklara, Vilas Shelke of Shelgaon, Gopal Masane of Jawala (all in Buldhana district), Raghunath Chavan of Shelu, Khushal Gawande of Satephal (both in Yavatmal), Gulabrao Gorde of Mokhad, Navnath Ghughe, Ramraowadi (both in Washim), Sahebrao Nakhale of Talegaon (Wardha) and Shalikram Milabekar of Shirpur in Amravati district.
Officials of state revenue department still have no clue about the increasing trend of suicide despite two economic packages --- one from the state government and another from the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. The prime minister had announced an economic package of around Rs 3,800-crore during his two-day tour in the region, on July 1.
Surprisingly, with this, the figure of farmers' suicide in the region after the prime minister’s visit has risen to 346. As many as 125 farmers had committed suicide in the region last month (September) alone. It was the highest figure in a month within the last one decade.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, who has been documenting the deaths from beginning, alleged that most of the farmers in the region were not getting loans from the banks and that’s why they were compelled to approach private moneylenders, who charge an exorbitant rate of interest. The blamed the banking system in the region for the present crisis.
He rejected the government claims that loans were being liberally distributed to farmers. “We are launching an agitation before the SBI branch of Patanbori in Yavatmal district on October 12 as the Bank Manager declared that he had received an instruction from his superiors to stop loan disbursement,” he informed.
However, the Amravati divisional commissioner and coordinator of package, Dr SK Goyal dismissed it as “rubbish.” The rural banks provide loans to farmers for Kharif crop from April to September while loans for Rabi crop begins from October. “The bank acts as per the RBI and NABARD instructions,” he further added. According to the senior IAS officer, he has not received any such complaints from farmers so far.