Since this January, 24 tribals, mostly farmers, in Jawhar taluka have committed suicide, said social worker Ravindra Shivde, though officially many of them have been classified as accidental deaths.
“There have been 24 unnatural deaths among tribals since January,” said Vijay Joshi, additional collector, revenue.
Villagers of Chondipada as well as the police patil (the local administrative contact) said people had stopped getting jobs under the government’s Employment Guarantee Schemes (EGS) more than a year ago, forcing locals to go to distant places for work.
Kailash Jadhav, additional collector in charge of supply, rationing and EGS in Jawhar, admitted that the EGS has been non-functional in the taluka for 18 months. “There are several government schemes for tribal development. But due to lack of awareness, they fail to avail it,” he said. “If the EGS had worked, Sitaram Gavanda could have been saved,” said Ramchandra Navsu Barph, police patil.
The public distribution system is also in tatters. In Chondipada, for instance, only 20 of the 270 families have ration cards, though as per official records, 169 families fall under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category.
Expressing shock at Gavanda’s suicide, Jadhav said: “I will send the tehsildar to visit the family. We will provide employment to the widow and education to the children.”