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Drought in Marathwada: Farmer suicide figures now at 997

By 5 pm Monday, government officials had registered as many as 997 deaths with the region reporting 20 to 25 or even 30 deaths every week, since the past 11 months.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune |
December 1, 2015 3:37:05 am

Farmer suicides in the drought-hit Marathwada region of Maharashtra has now almost reached the staggering 1000-figure mark. By 5 pm Monday, government officials had registered as many as 997 deaths with the region reporting 20 to 25 or even 30 deaths every week, since the past 11 months.

Of the eight districts in Marathwada, Beed has seen the highest number of farmer suicides – 283. Nanded is a close second with 173 deaths and Osmanabad, where the zero suicide plan has been launched, stands third with 145 deaths. Other districts like Aurangabad has seen 129 farmer suicides, Latur 89, Parbhani 77, Jalna 66 and Hingoli 35 suicides.

Officials in the Aurangabad divisional commissionerate said that of the 997 families of farmers who too, 626 were eligible for government compensation. “Families of other farmers who committed suicide are not eligible because these farmers were found to have ended their lives due to illness or family feuds and not due to rising debt or crop damage which is the criteria for giving government compensation,” said officials.

The eligible families will get Rs one lakh compensation and the government will also take the responsibility of higher education for their children.

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Expressing his concern at the rising number of suicides by farmers, MIM MLA Imtiaz Jaleel said, “The figure is shocking. Every week 20 to 25 farmers are committing suicide while the government has been caught napping.”

Slamming the “lack of seriousness” on the part of the government in tackling the situation, Jaleel said two months ago, a cabinet meeting had been scheduled in Marathwada to find out ways to tackle the situation. “But the meeting was cancelled because it rained the previous day. Thinking the rain will resolve the issue, the government did not do anything after that. This shows the kind of seriousness the Fadnavis-government attaches to the issue,” said Jaleel.

Government officials are also expressing their “helplessness” in curbing the growing suicide rate in the region. “There are various reasons behind these suicides. It is difficult to pinpoint any. Also, it must be borne in mind that the problem has persisted for years, it is not something that is happening today,” said Latur district collector Pandurang Pole.

Pole said that despite their best efforts, they have not been able bring down the suicides drastically. “The results cannot come quickly, it will take time….I am going village to village and interacting with farmers, pleading with them not to take the extreme step. I stay overnight at farmer’s houses to convince them about approaching government officials, rather than sulking and taking their own lives,” he said.

Aurangabad divisional commissioner Umakant Dangat, who looks after the eight districts said, “We are making all efforts to win over the farmers, but there are certain factors which have contributed to this state. One of these is the change in climate conditions of the region due to which rain has become highly elusive. Lack of rain has snatched the livelihood of farmers who are not dying because of debts but due to their hard efforts and investments going for a toss,” he said.

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