Despite the fact that the Maharashtra government has announced loan waiver for farmers, there is no let-up in the spate of suicides in eight districts of Marathwada. In the last two weeks, as many as 42 farmers have ended their lives, which government officials said highlighted the magnitude of the rural distress.
According to the latest figures released by the Aurangabad divisional commissionerate, which monitors the farmer suicides in Marathwada, 445 farmers have embraced death this year as on June 26.
Between June 19 and June 25, as many as 19 farmers ended their lives, while 23 farmers had committed suicide between June 12 and June 18.
The government had made the first loan waiver announcement on June 11, after which the statewide farmer strike was called off. The state cabinet then cleared the loan waiver plan to the tune of Rs 34,000 crore last Saturday. As per the latest figures, Beed district has witnessed the highest suicide figure of 74, followed by Nanded (75), Osmanabad (68) and Aurangabad (62) in the last seven months.
Four days ago, while announcing Rs 34,000-crore crop loan waiver for farmers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said the government was waiving off loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh per farmer. He also said the decision would benefit around 89 lakh farmers in the state and make around 40 lakh debt-free.
Fadnavis said the waiver would help all debt-ridden farmers and small and marginal ones. Kishore Tiwari, who heads the government-appointed Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavlamban Mission, said the farmer suicides would stop once the loan waiver would take effect on the ground.
“The moment the farmers get to know that their loans have been actually waived by banks, we expect the suicide figure to drastically fall,” he said.
Tiwari said continuing farmer suicides despite announcement of loan waiver highlighted the level of rural distress.
“There are several factors responsible for the extreme step being taken by the farmers. Debt is one of them. The government is working at all levels, such as providing food security, crop insurance and health cover to farmers, to alleviate the distress,” he said, adding that results would take time to reflect on the ground. Echoing his views, Aurangabad District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said, “Besides mounting debt, disease and family problems are also responsible for farmer suicides.”