The Governments massive loan-waiver scheme does not seem to have had the desired impact in Vidarbhas suicide belt. Figures available with the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawalamban Mission,the authority implementing the loan-waiver package,show 1,139 farmers killed themselves in Vidarbhas six most suicide-prone districts in 2008 a mere 107 less than in 2007,when 1,246 farmers committed suicide.
The inadequate impact of the waiver becomes more apparent by the fact that 1,448 farmers killed themselves in these districts in 2006: thus,the year-to-year fall in numbers was bigger during 2006-2007 (202),when there was no scheme,than during 2007-2008.
The loan-waiver was announced in Budget 2008. The six districts of Buldana,Akola,Washim,Amravati,Yavatmal and Wardha have seen massive agrarian distress.
The suicide spiral isnt much different even in the March-December periods of 2007 and 2008,the loan-burdened and loan-free periods respectively. In these months,the corresponding figures 1,039 and 961,with a difference of just 78 tell the story.
The same is true for the July-December periods of the two years which merit comparison because the loan-waiver actually took effect in this period of 2008. For these months,the figures stood at 642 (2007) and 560 (2008),showing a decline of 82.
Thus,in both the post-waiver announcement and waiver-effective periods,there has been little effect on the rates of suicide in these districts.
Significantly,of the about 18 lakh farmers in these districts,9.55 lakh more than 50 per cent have benefited from the loan-waiver. About 6.25 lakh received full waivers and about 3.3 lakh received partial waivers,the relief amount coming to Rs 1,294 crore.