Truant monsoon forces four vidarbha farmers to end life in 48 hrs-DNA
DNA / Yogesh Pawar / Friday, July 6, 2012 8:00 IST
The erratic progress of the monsoon has made four distressed farmers from Vidarbha commit suicide in the last 48 hours alone.
Six others had done the same last week.
Activists fear that if rains are delayed further, there could be a sharp increase in the tally of farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha from 426 from January this year.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti says “An arid Vidarbha has had erratic rains since 2010. This year, too, the second week of June saw very heavy rains in some blocks. This was followed by normal monsoon as forecast by the metrological department. On cue, farmers finished sowing, only to face a complete dry spell for 20 days. They were forced to watch the heat scorch both their freshly sown crop and their hopes of good production.”
Tiwari takes umbrage at agriculture minister Sharad Pawar’s comment that the delay in monsoon is not a matter of concern. “Coming on the heels of the National Crime Records Bureau’s announcement that Maharashtra saw the largest number of farmers’ suicides in 2011, this seems not only insensitive, but is also a mockery of the farmers’ distress.”
Official figures show that less than 25% of the over three million cotton farmers are covered by institutional banks and that crop loan disbursement target is less than 40% of Nabard’s (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) credit outlay to the region. “The government knows credit crunch is the real issue and credit-starved, debt-trapped farmers are being pushed to end their lives, but we haven’t seen the government being pro-active in this regard,” alleges Tiwari. “At least now, it should intervene and restructure crop loans.”
“The water in dams and reservoirs is fast depleting. Ground water levels have dropped due to over-exploitation. Those moving away from cotton and soya, which ruin both the ecosystem and their lives, to traditional crops which require less water, like pulses, groundnut, jowar and bajra, should be given incentives,” he urges.