Maharashtra’s agrarian distress that showed an encouraging drop after 2006 and till 2013 has taken an upturn in 2014, considered the worst drought year in the state’s history after 1973. While there were 1,297 suicides in 2013, the figure shot up to 1,965 in 2014, according to the latest government statistics available with The Indian Express.
After 2,376 suicides in 2006, the figures dropped to 2,076 in 2007, 1,966 in 2008, 1,605 in 2009, 1,741 in 2010, 1,518 in 2011 and 1,473 in 2012.
In 2014, Marathwada reported 565 suicides, the highest in the state, recording an increase of 173 per cent over its 2013 figure of 207 suicides. Nashik division, known for its flourishing horticulture, too, registered its highest number of suicides (291) in 2014 — an increase of 70 per cent over the 2013 tally of 170.
In comparison, Amravati division, known as the most distressed agrarian region, recorded a lower 16 per cent increase — 117 suicides more than its 2013 figure of 705. This, despite the fact that the entire division, mainly growing cotton and soyabean, was declared drought hit in the recent survey.
The division had its peak tally of 1,295 suicides in 2006. The figure had come down to 705 in 2013, showing a steady drop through the years. As reported by The Indian Express, it also denoted growing resilience of the division’s farmers towards distress.
In Nagpur division, largely growing paddy along with cotton and soyabean, the suicide tally went up from 178 in 2013 to 261 in 2014. The suicides in the division have been concentrated, as usual, in the cotton and belt of Wardha, Chandrapur and Nagpur districts. Nagpur division’s peak tally of 367 was also in 2006. It had come down to 178 in 2013.
Pune and Konkan divisions continued to have least number of suicides. Pune tally dropped from 37 to 24 while Konkan had two suicides in 2014 against nil in 2013. Pune has recorded a little under 700 suicides since 2001 and Konkan 17.
Agrarian, non-agrarian suicides
In government evaluation, of the total number of suicides till date, about 44 per cent have been adjudged as agrarian decided on the bases of whether the person was a land owner, debtor or was suffering from crop failures.
This percentage, however, differed from region to region — 57% in Nashik, 54% in Aurangabad, 53% in Pune, 45% in Nagpur and 38% in Amravati. Konkan’s 17 suicides since 2001 had 14 adjudged as agrarian.