Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vidharbha Continues to be Haunted by Farmers' Suicide

Vidharbha Continues to be Haunted by Farmers' Suicide
January 31, 2007
Rajen Nair

There is no sign of suicide abating in the village of Vidharbha in Maharashtra. In the last 48 hours according to a newspaper report 11 farmers took their lives adding to the rising toll of 62 deaths in the first month of the year.

The farmers of Vidarbha continue to leave a trail of suicide from past several years. Last year the cases of suicide reached the all time high with 1050 farmers killing themselves. According to Maharashtra government about 3000 farmers have committed suicide from past three years. It is indeed a shameful admission by any government of the day. This speaks of the government apathy towards the farmers and its utter failure in stopping the spate of suicide in that region.

The primary cause for the farmers to take to this extreme step is the stark poverty prevalent in the remote villages of Vidarbha. From last several years the state is facing acute agrarian crisis. The primary causes for so many suicides are both natural and man made. The uncertainty of monsoon at times plays havoc with the cash crop. Then the loan shark lends out loan at high interest rate which becomes almost impossible for the farmers to repay. This leaves them in heavy debt. The middle man's presence in the market eats in the profit margin of the farmers when it comes to selling. Also the poor farmer is not able to meet the higher cost of using modern technology for higher yield and invariably incur losses.

The years of neglect of Vidarbha region by the politicians too have contributed to the plight of the farmers. Some political party is demanding the separation of Vidarbha from the state of Maharashtra has a quick face solution to the crisis. Will that herald progress of Vidarbha is no guarantee. The fact is that the region remains untouched by the all round globalisation taking place in other parts of India.

About 12 lakh farmers are heavily in debt due to poverty. The social activist Vidarbha Jan Andolan samiti ( VJAS) is actively involved in that region helping the farmers. The Indian government has so far given 5000 crore in aid as part of the relief package. It has earmarked 2077 crore for building several irrigation projects in western Vidharbha but unfortunately none could get started because of the stringent forest laws and the unsettled issue of compensation paid to farmers for acquiring their land. The government has failed miserably. Despite the huge aid offered could not mitigate the suffering of the farmers.

Right from the Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh to leaders of all hue have visited the region. The guru Sri Sri Sri Ravi Shanker tried spreading his spiritual mantra to the poor farmers. Unfortunately none of them could stem the tide of suicide occurring in Vidharbha. Now it is left to the farmers to understand that taking lives will not solve their problem but only add to those they left behind and put an end once for all to this senseless suicide spree.

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