NAGPUR: A parliamentary standing committee will visit the farm suicide capital of Yavatmal on March 2. The 37-member committee, headed by Basudeo Acharya of CPM, will go to Pandharkawda and visit couple of villages to find out why farmers suicides continue unabated despite a plethora of measures taken by the government, providing relief to cotton growers of drylands of Vidarbha.
This is the first time that such a large team of parliamentary committee will be visiting the region. The visit comes in the wake of reports that the actual number of farmers committing suicides and found eligible for compensation by the government has actually tripled last year. There are also reports that the government may consider yet another relief package for dry-land farmers whose economic plight has worsened in the last six years and the cases of loan defaults have recorded an alarming rise in the region. Another round of loan waiver can only make them eligible for fresh bank credits in the next kharif season.
Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which is spearheading the cotton growers' cause for over a decade, will be meeting the standing committee members during the visit to Pandharkawda. The panel members will be taken to nearby villages of Bhamraja and Maregon to study the ground realities. "Several such studies have been undertaken in the past. We only hope that the fresh attempt of the government will succeed in identifying the problem and ways to address it,' said Kishore Tiwari, VJAS president, on Saturday. He lamented that recommendation of high-profile reports of M S Swaminathan who headed the National Agricultre Commission and Prof Narendra Jadhav were never implemented.
"In 2006, the CM-PM package of Rs 5000 crore was followed by a massive loan waiver in 2008. As part of Rs 70,000 crore covering several states, Vidarbha region got a share of Rs 6000 crore. In 2009, the state government extended the loan waiver facility. Planning commissionexperts also visited the region and gave their report. In effect, a dozen such committees may have studied the farm crisis in Vidarbha. But a lasting solution to make agriculture sustainable has evaded the authorities till date," said Tiwari. There are fresh worries that cotton farmers have fallen prey to monopolistic designs of multinational seed companies producing genetically modified seeds.