MUMBAI: Maharashtra has reported 852 farmer suicides in the four months between January to April this year, according to government data. This means an average of seven farmer suicides were reported every single day during this period. As many as 409 cases – or 48% – are from Vidarbha region, from where chief minister Devendra Fadnavis hails.
Overall, the figures are lower than the 1,023 cases reported during the same span last year, when the state was in the grip of a severe drought and water crisis. Subsequently, the state experienced a good monsoon.
Within the cotton belt of Vidarbha, the bulk of farmer suicides are from the five districts of Amravati, which reported 324 cases. This is not much lower than the 339 cases reported during this period last year. So far, 85 cases have been reported from Nagpur division. Marathwada region, which had experienced successive years of drought, reported 291 cases till April this year, or 34% of the total. Last year, by April, the figure was 375.
North Maharashtra reported 132 farmer suicides by the end of April, or 15% of the total cases. The Konkan belt reported only one case so far, while the sugar belt of Western Maharashtra has reported 19 cases, according to revenue department figures.
The Opposition has been demanding a farm loan waiver, the issue which led to its Sangharsh Yatra. But the state has refused to grant it, saying it would cost Rs 30,500 crore and that the earlier waiver did not stem suicides.
Farm leaders say the government has not done enough to address the critical issues of pricing and farm loans. “As we face the monsoon, many farmers who have not been able to repay existing loans will not be eligible for fresh loans,” says farm leader Vijay Jawandhia. Pointing to the tur dal glut, he said the government did not act quickly enough to impose restrictions on imports.