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1,129 farmers in Maharashtra committed suicide from Jan to May, loan waiver won’t help: Activists

Mumbai city news: The number of suicides dropped slightly, compared to last year’s tally of 1,293 during the first 5 months of the year

mumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2017 09:34 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,farmer suicides,Maharashtra farmers
Activists said the government’s loan waiver was unlikely to help reduce the rate of suicides.(HT File Photo)

Even as the demand for farm loan waivers was at its peak and Maharashtra farmers’ outfits were preparing to begin their agitation, as many as 243 committed suicide in May. As many as 1,129 farmers have killed themselves between January and May this year.

Osmanabad (in Central Maharashtra) and Yavatmal (in Vidarbha) were the two districts in which the maximum farmer suicides were reported. In Amravati, 426 farmers committed suicide, while in Aurangabad, 380 did this year.

However, the number of suicides has dropped slightly, compared to last year’s tally of 1,293 during the corresponding period.

Officials from the agriculture department expect the number of the suicides to drop over the next few months after the government’s loan waiver is implemented. “In 2008, loan waivers by the then Congress-led government had brought respite to farmers. The suicide rate dropped immediately after the announcement. This time, too, the trend is likely to repeat,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.

Activists, however, said the government’s loan waiver was unlikely to help reduce the rate of suicides. “Farmer suicides continued despite the Sangharsh Yatra, strikes and talks of loan waiver in April and May as farmers do not have faith in political leaders. The farmers’ agitation was restricted to western Maharashtra. Farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha, which have a high suicide rate, did not participate,” said Amar Habib, a farm activist in Marathwada.

“The government should give monthly financial aid to genuinely distressed farmers if it really wants to reduce the suicides,” he added.

The Fadnavis government has announced that the loans of farmers in Maharashtra will be waived by the end of October. Waivers worth Rs33,000 crore are likely to benefit about 30 lakh farmers.

In 2016, 3,063 farmers committed suicide despite satisfactory rainfall, following three consecutive years of drought. The falling prices of agricultural produce and outstanding loan payments left the farmers distressed despite the bumper crops in 2016-17. Experts blame the failed policies of the government for the plight of the farmers.

Suicides by month
2017 2016
January203 252
February205 228
March255 267
April223 276
May243 270
Total1,129 1,293

First Published: Jun 16, 2017 17:35 IST