Maharashtra has recorded 12,021 farmer suicides during the last four years. This averages to eight farmer suicides every single day during the period.
With the state reeling under one of the worst-ever droughts in its history, the high number of farmer suicide continues to be a big worry for the BJP government as it gears up for the state polls.
Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Subhash Deshmukh, while replying to a starred question tabled in the Legislative Assembly, further informed that these suicides had been reported between January 2015 and December 2018. “Of the 12,021 cases, 6,888 cases or only 57 per cent have so far been found eligible for ex-gratia financial assistance. The state government provides an assistance of Rs 1 lakh to families of farmers who are deemed to have committed suicide on account of farm distress.
He said further that the aid had so far been distributed in 6,845 cases. In 2017, the state government had rolled out a farm debt waiver scheme to curb farm distress. The BJP government has also claimed that it has spent a great deal on irrigation and water conservation during these four years, but this hasn’t stopped the disturbing trend of farmer suicides, admitted sources. Maharashtra witnesses the highest number of farmer suicides in India.
Deshmukh also informed that in the first three months of 2019, 610 farmers had committed suicide. Of this, 192 were found eligible for assistance, he stated. The Opposition has been targeting the Fadnavis government for the rise in farmer suicides, blaming incorrect policies of the government for the worrying trend.
Opposition leader Jayant Patil said, “We have always drawn the attention of the government towards agrarian crisis. Whether it is loan waiver or crop loan they are not reaching all the needy farmers. Thus, pushing them in greater financial distress leading to such extreme steps.”
A senior cabinet minister requesting anonymity said, “The government has been sensitive to the farmers’ concerns. Yet, if farmers commit suicide it is a matter of grave concern. We have provided highest loan waiver of Rs 24,000 crore to 50 lakh farmers. Every year we increase the crop loan for farmers. It is almost Rs 58,000 crore. But we have to ensure small and marginal farmers have easy access to crop loans.”