MUMBAI: As many as 221 farmer suicides — roughly, about three deaths daily — were recorded in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region from January to mid-March this year, according to the data presented by the state government in the Assembly. In March alone, 66 farmers have committed suicide in the Marathwada region, which is the most parched and backward region of the state. Failure in effective implementation of loan waiver scheme and problems in compensation of cotton farmers hit by pink bollworms were the two primary reasons for these deaths, said Kishor Tiwari, chairman of government- appointed Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission.
Leader of Opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde, who hails from Beed, a prominent district of Marathwada, also blamed the state government for the suicides. “The Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government has failed to compensate the farmers who lost cotton crop to pink bollworms in Marathwada and Vidarbha. It also failed in taking the benefits of loan waiver scheme to the farmers. Though the CM has been quoting huge figures, my estimate suggests not more than `12,000 crore have been actually disbursed,” said Munde.
“The district cooperative and nationalised banks are charging interest on waived-off loan… The farmers are left with hardly any other option but to commit suicides.” Meanwhile, Tiwari said farmers were not getting fair and remunerative price (FRP) for cotton and ‘tur’ (pigeon pea). The government has also not assured farmers of financial support from district cooperative banks and nationalised banks for the next season, he added. Tiwari also criticised the government for first announcing that the farmers will get support from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) and from insurance companies, and, then, failing to get them the help. “Such acts intensify the grief and chances of suicides increase,” he said.