Even as the Maharashtra government has announced loan waiver for farmers, as many as 42 farmers have ended their lives in the last two weeks. This, government officials said, highlights the magnitude of rural distress in the state. According to the Aurangabad divisional commissionerate, which monitors 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 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, CM Devendra Fadnavis had said the government was waiving loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh per farmer. He said the decision would benefit around 89 lakh farmers in the state.
Kishore Tiwari, who heads the government-appointed Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavlamban Mission, said the farmer suicides would stop once the waiver takes effect. “When the farmers get to know that their loans have been waived by banks, we expect the suicide figure to drastically fall,” he said.
Tiwari said the farmer suicides despite the waiver highlighted the level of rural distress. “There are several factors for the suicides. 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.
Aurangabad District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said, “Besides mounting debt, disease and family problems are also responsible for farmer suicides.”