Mumbai, Jan 3 (IANS) Maharashtra recorded an estimated 3,500 suicides in 2019, or coming to an average of around 290 per month in 2019, a top farm activist said here on Friday.
This is more or less the annual average for the past 10 years though there are periodic increases in the monthly figures of suicides, owing to certain specific conditions that may prevail, according to Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari.
However, after the Lok Sabha elections, coupled with a drought, heavy monsoon floods and unseasonal rains, the latter half of the year witnessed a marginal spurt in farmers resorting to the extreme step.
“Maharashtra state has the highest number of suicides in the country, around 32 per cent as per the latest NCRB figures. But, our contention is that even the official figures may be understated by upto 50 per cent as many suicides are passed off as death due to other causes,” Tiwari told IANS.
He pointed out that after the Lok Sabha elections and till the end of 2019, virtually no attention was given to the agriculture sector and the farmers were left to fend for themselves against all calamities, making it a tough year for the peasantry.
While Marathwada notched a deficit monsoon, parts of Western Maharashtra were hit by the floods in September, followed by nearly three-fourths of the kharif crops on over nine million hectares wiped out in the October unseasonal rains.
Again since the past two days, many districts have been lashed by unseasonal rains, hailstorm hit in at least four districts, adding to the farmers’ woes in the New Year 2020, too.
“There was a marginal increase in the number of farmland deaths in the final quarter of 2019, but the exact figures are yet to be collated. The previous Bharatiya Janata Party-led regime could not effectively handle the agro-crises, while the new Shiv Sena-led has yet to settle down 35 days after it took office,” rued Tiwari.
The VNSSM chief slammed the BJP government at the Centre for doing little to keep its promises to the farmers in the past nearly six years or preventing the agriculture distress from escalating.
“There have been aid packages and loan-waivers, but most failed to reach the beneficiaries owing to various factors including the arrogant attitude of the banks. Now, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced a new scheme which is expected to be a drastic game-changer for the farming community,” Tiwari claimed.
He said that of the estimated 1.40 crore farmers, around 1.30 crore are in distress while the remaining one million are the ‘prosperous’ farmers, mostly in Western Maharashtra who are not affected by the ‘weather blues’.