December 6, 2022

2,498 farmers ended their lives in 11 months of 2021 in Maharashtra: RTI reply | Mumbai News – Times of India

MUMBAI: Distress among farmers in the state pushed 2,498 of them to end their lives in the 11-month period from January to November 2021. In 2020, 2,547 debt-ridden farmers had committed suicide.
Data from the state revenue department shows that despite loan waiver schemes of the government, farmers continue to commit suicide for inability to repay loans. Region-wise Aurangabad saw 804 suicides in the 11-month period in 2021 and Nagpur division reported 309 cases. Konkan division had no suicides in the last two years. “Even after several loan waivers and multiple other schemes for farmers, the suicide rate has seen no major reduction as 2,547 farmers committed suicide in 2020 while 2,498 ended their lives in 11 months from Jan to Nov 2021,” said Jeetendra Ghadge, RTI activist who sought data.
Vidarbhahas always been the worst-hit with almost 50% suicides in the state. Amravati district (331) surpassed Yavatmal (270) as the leading one to record the highest suicides compared to 2020. Ghadge of ‘The Young Whistleblowers Foundation’ added, “Ignoring the mental health aspect of farmers and just giving loan waivers to all will never address the problem. A bankruptcy scheme for only bankrupt farmers with mental health support would cost less and solve the problem more effectively. It’s important to filter out distressed farmers so that help is channelised to the ones who need it the most.”
A shift in cultivation in favour of cereals, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables, according to suitable agro-climatic conditions of Marathwada and Vidharbha is necessary, said Dnyandev Talule, head of the department of economics at Shivaji University.
In his December 2021 research paper titled, ‘The Signs of Persistent Agrarian Distress; Suicide by Maharashtra Farmers’, he said, “Effects of government relief packages in the past were short-lived and could not address problems in the long run. Elimination of corruption in the implementation of these packages is also important.” Under the state’s Rs 1 lakh relief, an average of only 50% of farmers’ kin were found eligible for compensation, said Ghadge who added that outdated criteria framed 15 years ago only provide financial aid to kin only if loan is from a nationalised bank.

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