On Wednesday Yogendra Yadav, who heads the Swaraj Abhiyan, has accused the Narendra Modi government of remaining apathetic to the plight of distressed farmers of Marathwada even as 500 farmers from the region have committed suicide in first five months of this year.
Yadav said that while the Prime Minister has been busy celebrating two years of his government, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too has shown little concern towards the families of dying farmers in Marathwada.
“During our 12-day long padyatra, we came face to face with the grim realities in both Marathwada and Bundelkhand region. In both the regions, the drought situation has worsened, people are going through worst kind of nightmare. In Marathwada, distressed farmers are ending their life everyday. In Bundelkhand, thousands of animals have died for want of fodder,” Yadav told The Indian Express.
Yadav said the situation in Marathwada has worsened by the fact that water was being diverted for profiteering.
“Water is available in Marathwada. But what we noticed was the fact water was being diverted for making profit. And the state government was found wanting in tackling the situation. The role of government officials raises doubts in the minds of the people,” said Yadav, who conducted a padayatra for five days in Beed, Osmanabad and Latur, three of the worst drought-hit districts of Marathwada.
Pointing out that water industry was flourishing in Marathwada, Yadav said, “Private tankers were seen minting money. Several different bottle brands which even Delhi has not seen are available in Marathwada. Similar is the case with jar brads. Even beer factories are cashing in.”
According to Yadav, the Maharashtra government had failed to take proper steps in order to stop water from being stolen and profiteered.
Though the situation is bad in Marathwada, Yadav said, the state government and central governments have shown little sense of urgency in taking strong measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people and farmers.
Also read | Marathwada: 36 farmers end life in a week
“Every day distressed farmers are dying in Marathwada, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has found no time to provide solace to the families of the dead farmers. He has been busy touring foreign countries and indulging in celebrations of two years of his government. And has not found time to visit Marathwada even once…it shows how much the Prime Minister is concerned about farmers,” said Yadav.
Similarly, Yadav said, though Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh once, but has not found time for Marathwada. “Don’t know whether Modi and Rahul will even bother to visit Marathwada…” he added.
Maruti Bhapkar, Maharashtra coordinator of Swaraj Abhiyan, said,”During two year celebrations of the Modi government Rahul Gandhi taunted the Prime Minister. He said Prime Minister was celebrating his two years, but was not bothered about the dying farmers of Marathwada. Like the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi too has shied away from consoling the aggrieved families of farmers of Marathwada.”
Accusing the Modi government of being anti-farmer, Yadav said, “The agrarian crisis has hit the country badly. Lakhs of farmers and their families are facing difficult time. But we have hardly heard of any concrete package from the government ease the sufferings of the farmers. Since Independence, this is the first government which has proved to be totally against the farmers.”
Yadav said the implementation of the MNREGA in Marathwada also leaves much to be desired. “All the work under MNREGA it seems has been corned by vestered interests and the ordinary worker has been left high and dry. At a time when the drought has made life miserable for the ordinary labourers, the government is rubbing salt into their wounds by depriving them semblance of work,” said Yadav.
In Bundelkhand, the situation was no better. “While people of the region who have been hit by water shortage, thousands of animals of died of fodder shortage,” he said.
Also read | Only 1 per cent water remains in Marathwada dams
Meanwhile, figures available from the Aurangabad divisional commissionerate, reveal that as many as 500 farmers have ended their lives by this week in eight districts of Marathwada. Beed district has seen the highest 92 suicides while Nanded district is at second with 76 suicides since January. Aurangabad has seen 75 suicides and Osmanabad 71.
Beed district collector Navalkishore Ram said his administration has been taking steps to reduce the farmer suicide in the district. “This is proved by the fact that Beed distirct has got the highest Rs 800 crore crop insurance in Maharashtra from the central government. It shows a large number of farmers have paid their premium,” he said.