The agrarian crisis continues unabated in Vidarbha region with six more farmers having committed suicide in the last 24 hours. With the deaths, the toll has touched 814 in the current kharif season.
According to reports reaching Nagpur on Saturday, two farmers each from Yavatmal, Buldhana and Amravati districts have ended their lives in the last 24 hours. The names of the victims were given as: Namdeo Bhimrao Bone of Tarnoli, Venkati Reddy Yeltiwar of Lingti village (both Yavatmal), Shankar Jhalte of Sogoda, Bhivaji Jadhav, Dattapur (both Buldhana), Madhukar Bhelkar, Chincholi and Bhandudas Bondre of Munhadevi (both Amravati district).
Of them, Venkat Reddy was the cousin of former chairman of Jhari Panchayat Samiti, Ramanna Yelktiwar. Twenty-seven-year old, Venkat was a progressive farmer, committed suicide by consuming poison on Saturday morning. He had taken a loan of Rs 35,000 from the local State Bank of India and could not repay the loans because of not getting remunerative prices of raw cotton, reports said. Another victim, Bhimrao Bone (65) ended his life by hanging himself. Extreme indebtedness and crop failure were said to be the cause of the suicide.
Two relief packages have been announced for the region by the state and union government since December 2005, but the suicides continue. The suicide rate that was declining since December, drastically went up from February this year. As many as 296 farmers have killed themselves this year alone.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, who has been documenting the farmers' suicide in the region since 2001 and campaigning for the farmers rights, pointed out that all these victims were depressed as they had not paid back the money, borrowed from the banks during the Kharif season. "Being defaulters, victims were scared that they would not get fresh loans in the coming kharif season and that primarily led to the tragedy," he observed.
Three debt-trapped farmers commit suicide every day in Vidarbha. And the cotton has now been dubbed "the killer crop" as the growers could not get the reasonable returns because of the high cost of farming. Tiwari urged the government to promote low-cost farming among farmers so that they can get enough returns for surviving.