Despite it being the worst years for farmers in recent times, the downward trend of farmer suicides in Vidarbha continued into 2019, as per figures collected by Maharashtra government’s task force Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission.
According to the report, six major cotton producing districts of Wardha, Yavatmal, Amravati, Washim, Akola and Buldhana recorded 1,108 suicides in 2019 as compared to 1,160 in 2018 — a drop of 4.48 per cent.
In 2019, unseasonal rain wreaked havoc in the entire state, with Marathwada and Vidarbha taking the worst hit.
The six districts have been in focus for high incidence of suicides in the countryside, categorised as farmer suicides, since 2006, when the government first started systematically tabulating figures. The figures include suicides committed by any other member of the farmers’ families as well, besides that of farmers.
The peak year was 2006, when 1,449 suicides were recorded in these six districts. The state and central governments had pumped in massive amounts of money to curb the trend. The numbers kept going down with 2013 recording the lowest at 805.
The figure, however, started going up once again with 2015 recording the second highest peak of 1,348 suicides. Once again, the number started dropping, with successive years registering 1,235 suicides in 2016, 1,176 in 2017 and 1,160 in 2018, respectively.
In 2018, Yavatmal recorded the highest number of farmer suicides at 285, followed by Buldhana at 271, Amravati at 264, Akola at 121, Washim at 92 and Wardha at 75.
Of the total number of farmer suicides, 489 were declared as “eligible” for government aid, which means the inquiry established that they had a connection to the farm crisis. The number of “ineligible” cases was 375 while 244 are still under scrutiny.
In sharp contrast, the five districts in East Vidarbha — Nagpur, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondia and Gadchiroli – where paddy is the dominant crop, the numbers have been drastically lower than the cotton belt of six West Vidarbha districts.
The five districts together recorded 141 suicides last year up to November (December figures are yet to be updated). Here again, the numbers have dropped from 248 in 2016 to 183 in 2017 and 165 in 2018.
Among the five districts, Chandrapur recorded 53 suicides up to November followed by Nagpur (48), Bhandara (13), Gondia (nine) and Gadchiroli (seven) in 2019.
Here, “eligible” cases were 38, “ineligible” 29 and 63 cases are still under scrutiny.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines