As the kharif season begins in the next few months, more farmers in Vidarbha have been driven to suicide as many of them, already in debt from the last season, have not been able to get fresh loans.
Six more farmers killed themselves in the last 48 hours, two from eastern Vidarbha, Maharashtra’s rice bowl. Repeated crop failure caused by drought and unseasonal rain has left farmers with mounting debts – both from banks and private moneylenders.
Of the six victims were two young farmers – one the sole bread-winner of a family of five and another 25-year-old who feared he will not get a loan for the new crop season, as he was a defaulter. Harshal, 32, hanged himself in his house in Nayakund. He owned four acres of land, but for the past three years, got hardly any income from farming. The 25-year-old farmer Nikhil Gohad from Amravati swallowed pesticide.
The deaths of the six farmers have taken the toll to 70 in March alone. Sixty-six farmers committed suicide in February, 64 in January.
Facing heat over the plight of farmers in the state, the Devendra Fadnavis government had said it will write off loans of up to Rs 5 lakh farmers had taken from registered private money-lenders even for non-agricultural purposes.
While campaigning for the assembly elections in October last year, the BJP government, currently in power in the state, had targeted the previous Congress-NCP regime for its failure to prevent farmer suicides.However, Kishore Tiwari, the president of the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti said, “Now the BJP government is concentrating on smart cities. It has no time for farmers.”
The Congress has said its members will march from Dabhadi to Mahatma Gandhi’s Sevagram ashram in Wardha, to remind PM Narendra Modi about his promise to farmers.