The Bombay High Court Thursday said that it expected the state government to take farmers’ suicides seriously and pointed out that farming was considered an activity of pride in Maharashtra. It said that the state was merely bandaging injury wounds and should come up with long-term measures for farmers.
A Bench of Justice Naresh Patil and S B Shukre also directed the state to provide information about compulsory crop insurance for farmers and what crop pattern should be adopted by farmers. The court added that steps should be taken to encourage the rural youth to engage in farming.
The court referred to several letters it had received from farmers which stated how indebtedness led to suicides. “This needs to be addressed,” said Justice Patil.
The state government informed the Bombay High Court that 21 farmers had committed suicide in Beed in 2014, according to the data collected by the state. It also informed that several families of such farmers in Beed and Usmanpur shifted out of the villages thereafter, though this trend was not seen in Latur.
The Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) in the matter – senior counsel A Kumbhakoni – referred to the rising prices of tur dal. It was pointed out that the farmers would now try to grow tur dal.
Kumbhakoni also referred to the latest Swaminathan National Commission on Farmers report and a report prepared by a financial accounting firm on why agriculture was not getting labour. “A lot of people don’t want to do agriculture labour as this work is seasonal. They go to the city to find a job and many of them are employed as security guards as it doesn’t require any skill,” said Kumbhakoni.
He also pointed out that agriculture was considered a low esteem job and the lack of educational facilities was another reason for migration from rural areas.
The court added that often children from rural areas failed to find jobs in cities and were unable to adjust to village life after migrating to cities.
Kumbhakoni pointed out that candidates having PHDs had applied for peon jobs in Solapur district court.
The HC had taken suo motu cognisance of a news report last month that said as many as 32 farmers from Marathwada had committed suicide in the first week of September, bringing the toll of farmers’ suicides in the region to 660 this year. Most suicides, at least 179, have been reported from Beed district this year.
The HC had earlier wanted to know what the government was doing about the ground situation. It had also sought a report on the condition of the family members of farmers who had committed suicide. The state provided some information and sought more time to provide a comprehensive report. The matter has been kept for hearing next week.