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11 farmers commit suicide in Vidarbha

Ironically, the deaths come at a time when M'rashtra CM claims success of relief packages, writes Pradip Maitra.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2006 23:52 IST

Eleven farmers have committed suicide in Vidarbha in the last 24 hours.

Ironically, the incidents took place when Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh claimed at the Congress conclave in Nainital that the relief package had brought respite to Vidarbha farmers.

Of the deceased farmers, three were from Buldhana and three from Yavatmal, while two belonged to Amravati and one each hailed from Wardha, Washim and Akola district.

Over 97 farmers have killed themselves in this month alone.

As many as 902 farmers have taken the drastic step in the kharif season. Of them, 298 have committed suicide after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit.

The suicides come despite the fact that the Prime Minister had visited the area in June-July and announced a special aid package for them.

On the recent deaths, Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti had alleged that state officials are not taking the agrarian crisis seriously, and are instead inviting spiritual leaders for helping the farmers.

However, Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil maintained that the government was extremely concerned over suicides by bankrupt farmers and wanted a permanent solution to the problem.

He also claimed that packages by the state and Centre had certainly helped.

According to him, nationalised and cooperative banks have disbursed loans to eight lakh farmers in the region in 2006, and loan interests of farmers have been totally waived off.

A sum of Rs 712 crore was spent for the purpose. Moreover, maximum farmers were covered under the Kisan credit card.

However, he did not have an answer when asked why farmers were killing themselves despite such funds.

"The major problem of the region is irrigation, and that's why my party wants to complete all the pending irrigation projects in the state through loans," he said, and informed that it needed a sum of Rs 16,000 crore.

"The NCP has requested the government in this regard, and the proposal has been accepted in principle by the state cabinet.

"The proposal will be send to the Central Planning Commission for an approval," he added.

Patil also said that the coalition government had set up a coordination committee to ensure smooth functioning of the government.

The chief minister, deputy chief minister, PCC chief Prabha Rau, state NCP president Arun Gujarathi, AICC general secretary Margaret Alva and the NCP leader Praful Patel would be the members of the committee.

The meeting of the committee will be convened soon, he informed.

First Published: Sep 24, 2006 23:19 IST