At a time when the Anna-tide has swept the people across the country against the anti-corruption campaign, sadly, the agrarian crisis continues to take a heavy toll on farmers in Vidarbha.
Unable to put up with crop failure, crippling debts and not getting remunerative price for their produce, six more distressed cotton-growers have committed suicide in Vidarbha over the last 48 hours.
Reports reaching Nagpur on Thursday said six cotton growers Kaniram Jadhav of Krishna Nagar (Yavatmal district), Pramod Gawande of Lotwada, Puroshottam Pakhan of Muradevi (both in Amravati), Nitin Fale, Masa (Akola), Sheikh Anwar, Pangarkhed (Buldhana) and Santosh Raut of Malegaon (Washim), ended their lives in the last two days.
With these, the farmers' suicide toll has risen to 44 this month while the figure was 52 in July. As many as 418 farmers have committed suicide because of agrarian crisis in Vidarbha since January 2011.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Shravan Hardikar, the district collector of Yavatmal, one of the worst hit districts in the region, admitted that the rate of farmers' suicide has increased this month in the district. "We are trying our best to prevent such thing in the district," he said.
The institutional banks have disbursed around Rs 650-crore crop loan in the current kharif season as against the target of over Rs 900-crore. "Some nationalised banks are not cooperating in this regard and have been issued a stern warning. These banks have been directed to meet the target of disbursing crop loan to needy farmers," Hardikar said.
He informed that there were reports of 25 farmers' suicide this month in Yavatmal. "We are verifying facts whether these cases were related with agrarian crisis or not," he said.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti said that the growing trend of farmers' suicide is alarming. However, nobody is listening it in the wake of Hazare's fast for Jan Lokpal bill. This sensitive issue was overshadowed by Anna's agitation across the country.
"It is pathetic that Anna, who has been fighting for a good cause of anti-corruption, but never bothered about the vital issue of farmers' suicide in Vidarbha where an average two farmers commit suicide every day," he said. The veteran Gandhian crusader did not even speak about on wanton corruption by government officials and politicians while implementing the Prime Minister and state government relief packages of over Rs 6000-crore to bailout the distressed farmers of Vidarbha, Tiwari said.
The vicious circle of loans and exploitation by moneylenders and the powers-that-be, doesn't seem to be addressed by Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign. The farmers at large, though see a ray of hope in Anna, but those deeply caught in this vicious circle, are unable to cope up with farm distress any more.
"We are insisting that at least the government should treat these distressed farmers as BPL families so that they can get the food grain benefit from the government under the public distribution system to help minimise the farmers' suicide," Tiwari said. However, the government is not doing anything in this regard, he rued.