Mumbai :- Despite the state government assurances and loan waiver, the spate of farmer suicides in Maharashtra shows no signs of abating. Around 1,300 more farmers have committed suicides in 2019 alone in eleven districts of Vidarbha region.
As many as 14,591 farmers killed themselves in Maharashtra between October 2014 and August 2019, state Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar informed in the state legislative council on Monday. He also said that 1,286 farmers ended their lives in 2019 in 11 districts falling under the Nagpur and Amravati revenue divisions. Responding to a question in this regard, raised by Sharad Ranpise of Congress, the minister said, “From October 2014 to August 2019, as many as 14,591 farmers have committed suicide, of which 5,430 cases are disqualified for any help, while another 214 cases are pending for enquiry.” He also informed that there has been a special package for six districts in Maharashtra where farmer suicides have been reported in large numbers. The farmers of the state are killing themselves despite the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government recently announced a loan waiver scheme for them.
There is no official confirmation or authentic information on why farmers are continuing to kill themselves — whether it’s because they cannot repay their loans or because they find out they will not benefit from the budget’s ambitious loan waiver scheme. Even as the UPA government works out the nitty-gritty of the Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver for farmers, announced in its 2008 Union budget, farmers in Vidarbha and other parts of Maharashtra and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh continue to end their lives.
Experts believe that the suicides are continuing because farmers in Vidarbha will not benefit much from the loan waiver so long as holding size remains the sole criterion. The Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced that the government had collated the names of 34, 83,908 farmers who were eligible for farm loan waiver. As per the latest information, the state is estimating that the total number farm loan waiver-beneficiaries will be 36.45 lakh.
Two lists of beneficiary farmers have been released by the government so far. The Uddhav Government has made an allocation of Rs 24,723 crore for implementing the farm loan waiver scheme. In the supplementary budget demands presented in the Assembly, the State Government has set aside Rs 15,000 crore, while the Government had allocated Rs 10,000 crore for the loan waiver scheme from the exigency funds.
However, the opposition BJP said that the government was not fulfilling its promises to provide total loan waiver to farmers. The Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis had approached Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari over the issue and sought his intervention to ensure peasants get blanket loan waiver.
Fadnavis said that the state government has been betraying farmers since it was formed. The promise of giving loan waiver to farmers not kept. “We apprised the Governor on the issue and sought his intervention in ensuring complete loan waiver by the government,” he said. The opposition leader said there are 1.45 crore farmers in the state, while the government has released lists of only few thousands cultivators, who will be eligible for grant of loan waiver.