Owing to crop failure and rising debt incurred by farmers across the state,there has been a sudden spurt in the number of farmers committing suicides.
In 2012-13,about 60 farmers committed suicides in Gujarat for various reasons. But of these,25 were reportedly due to debt and crop-failures.
Crop-failure and debt-related farmer suicides that took place in 2012-13 are concentrated largely in Saurashtra,which saw farmers committing suicide in large numbers. According to state figures given by the Home Department of the state government in a written response to a query by Congress MLA Tejashree Patel from Viramgam during the recently concluded Monsoon Session of the Gujarat Assembly,Junagadh accounted for 10 farmer suicides,Amreli 4,Rajkot Rural 5,Rajkot City 2 and Jamnagar 2.
These figures are in complete contrast to the political stance of the ruling BJP in the state,in which the party has constantly refused to link farmer suicides with debt and crop failures. The number of farmers in the state has dropped by 3.5 lakh during the last 10 years and the number of agricultural labourers has increased by a staggering 17 lakh during the same period.
In the past five years,between 2008 and 2013,a total of 125 farmers have committed suicide in Gujarat,of which 33 reportedly due to crop failure and debt,the state government figures revealed. The remaining farmer suicides have been bracketed under other reasons.
Farmer suicides,caused by bad debts and crop failures,which were largely restricted to a total of eight in the financial years 2008-09,2009-10,2010-11 and 2011-12,suddenly shot up to 25 during 2012-13,a year that saw an extended dry spell and water shortage in various parts of the state.
When quizzed on the sudden rise in farmer suicides due to bad debts and crop-failures,Principal Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Co-operation Rajkumar said,We usually do a thread-bare analysis of all cases of farmer suicides that come to us. Till date,not a single case of farmers committing suicides due to crop failure or bad debt has come to our notice. The official also expressed his inability to comment on the figures provided by the home department to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
Though the state government has given a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the nearest kin of farmers in case of an accidental death,there is no such compensation in case farmers in the state commit suicide.
Jivan Patel,a senior representative of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS),a farmers body associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,in Gujarat,said: Farmer suicides in Gujarat,especially in Saurashtra,have a political colour. Most farmers are doing well in the state and those committing suicides are largely due to personal reasons.