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105 farmer suicides in August
Maharashtra Govt Puts Toll Since January At 803
Ramu Bhagwat | TNN
Nagpur: The Vidarbha farmers' suicide figure has crossed the hundred mark this month. With 17 more suicides reported in last three days, 105 farmers have ended their lives, the highest in a single month so far as the unprecedented agrarian crisis shows no signs of receding. The toll since June 2005 has reached 799.
The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which is keeping a close watch on the rural distress that is driving farmers in the cotton belt to desperation and death, has said the previous high of suicide cases was in July when 90 farmers died.
That was after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the suicide-affected Vidarbha and announced a special relief package for the worst hit six cotton-growing districts of the region on July 1.
What is inexplicable is the large number of suicides in these two months which are usually the most busy time for farmers in the kharif season.
So while 195 farmers have committed suicide after the Rs 3,750-crore PM's package was announced, over 600 have ended lives after the state government started implementing its Rs 1,075-crore relief package. More shockingly, there was big surge in last 14 days when 63 farmers committed suicide.
Samiti president Kishore Tiwari, who has squarely blamed the flawed policies of the state as well as the Central government for the surging suicides, said help, if any, reaching the distressed farmers was too late and too little to make any difference. According to a report that the Samiti has compiled, 68 farmers committed suicide in January, 54 in February, 77 in March, 65 in April, 62 in May, 68 in June, and 90 in July.
The Samiti has moved the high court seeking urgent intervention and action against the government and bureaucrats for their alleged failure to stop the suicides. Responding to the seriousness of the matter, the HC had asked the government to post all details of the implementation of the relief packages on a website.
The government has come out with the details on www.maharashtra.gov.in. Interestingly, the government has put the suicide toll since January this year at 803, much more than reported by farm activists or in the media.
Amravati divisional commissioner Sudhir Kumar Goyal, who is implementing the relief packages in the six districts, firmly denied any tardiness in the relief operations. "This year an additional Rs 500 crore has been disbursed as farm loans,'' he said.