The suicide toll of farmers in eight districts of Marathwada has crossed the 200-mark in past two and a half months. In last nearly 15 months, over 1,300 suicides have been recorded with each week witnessing 20-30 suicides of distressed farmers.
Incidentally, last week, there were 22 suicides by farmers at a time when the entire Mararashtra cabinet headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had landed in Marathwada to take stock of the situation arising of the “worst drought situation after 1971.”
By Monday evening, the Divisional Commissionerate in Aurangabad which keeps the record of the suicides of farmers registered 216 deaths since January 1. The highest suicides of 38 were registered in Beed.
Officials said Beed’s figure of 38 suicides was the highest recorded in two and half months. Aurangabad had the second highest suicides at 36. Nanded, which is another worst affected district, registered 31 suicides. Latur stands at third with 29 deaths and Osmanabad had 27 deaths.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who reviewed the drought situation in Marathwada last week and sought to infuse confidence in farmers by announcing a slew of measures, told this paper that his government was concerned about the farmer suicides and has taken several steps to bring them down. “Several measures have been put in place. It will take time for the results to come in. We are sure the suicide rate will soon come down,” he said. When pointed out that government officials were allegedly not put in their might to stop the farmer suicide saga, Fadnavis said all efforts are underway and things would soon change in Marathwada.
Divisional Commissioner Umakant Dhangat has his own take on the continuing suicides of farmers in Marathwada. “My assessment says that expectations, especially from family members, are rising high which are putting undue pressure on the farmer. What is making life difficult for farmers is the fact that the farm yield has been going down by the day and the farmer is not able to meet the demands of the situation, forcing him to take the extreme step of ending his life out of feeling guilt…” he told The Indian Express last week.
Senior government officials however said the farming scenario in Marathwada would change in near future as the government has roped in Israeli technology to infuse life in the farms in drought-hit regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha. “Osmanabad in Marathwada has been selected to implement the Jethro technology of Israel. The Jethro technology had helped farms in drought-hit parts of Israel to revive the farms. And we hope to replicate the same in Maharashtra,” an official in Chief Minister’s Office said.