New Delhi: As many as eight farmers are reportedly dying by suicide everyday in Maharashtra. As many as 1,203 farmers took their lives ever since the Eknath Shinde government came to power, the Indian Express reported, quoting NCP leader and Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, while he was speaking at Maharashtra’s legislative assembly on March 10.
“Farming in Maharashtra is under threat due to unseasonal rain, farm produce is unable to get a good price and as a result, farmers are throwing their produce on the road, agri power connections are being cut and price of fertilisers is increasing,” Pawar said.
“The Shinde-Fadnavis government is one of the most insensitive governments in terms of agriculture,” he added.
The New Indian Express reported that as against 1,203 farmers dying during seven months of the current administration, 1,660 farmers had died in the two-and-a-half-year period of the previous Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray.
Before the MVA government, the state was under the BJP rule and Devendra Fadnavis was the chief minister between 2014 and ’19. In that time period, 5,061 farmers ended their lives.
“In the Marathwada region, 62 farmers committed suicide in the last two months, while a total of 22 farmers ended their lives in the Beed district,” New Indian Express quoted Pawar as saying.
“We do not want to blame any individual or any particular chief minister, but it is the harsh reality that the farmers are ending their lives in the Shinde government in large numbers,” Pawar alleged.
He elaborated that financial distress among farmers was one of the major factors of distress.
“The cotton, onion and soyabean growing farmers did not get fair prices for their crops this year. We have seen how onion farmers are throwing the products on the road while some of them are burning them on farms. The farmers are unable to recover their input cost and expenses as well,” Pawar explained.
The opposition heaped this criticism on the government after it announced a slew of schemes for the farmers, including an annual cash assistance of Rs 6,000, in the state government’s Budget recently presented. This annual assistance will be over and above a similar assistance of Rs 6,000 provided by the central government.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), of which Pawar is a member, also alleged that farmers are being discriminated against on the basis of their castes when they go to procure fertilisers, referring to an incident in state’s Sangli district.
“Now while buying the fertilisers on a government site, the farmer’s caste has been asked. It is bizarre how they can humiliate the farmers by asking about their caste. A farmer is a farmer, please do not divide them on the basis of caste and religion,” NCP leader Jayant Patil said.