Absence of proper rainfall has risked the farmlands of Aurangabad district in Maharashtra and lack of subsequent effective government intervention is leaving farmers with no option but suicide.
According to climate report of researchers there are high chances of climatic conditions similar to El Nino effect to occur in 14 districts in Maharashtra. Farmers of Marathwada region in Aurangabad have been experiencing difficult times for the last three years. The first year they experienced extreme drought, in the second year untimely rain destroyed the crops and recently a hail storm added to their misery. The farmers of Marathwada complained that the government has not intervened at any juncture to assist them and stop farmers from committing suicide.
A farmer, Gopinath, expressed the fear of drought intensifying in the coming years. "Eminent scientists say that due to global warming drought will be more intense in the coming years, so the government should start working on this issue presciently," said Gopinath.
Till date 95 farmers have resorted to extreme step of giving up their life in despair as they had no option left in front of them to support their families. Nearly five dozen farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have committed suicide last month over debt worries, farmers' advocacy groups say.
Millions of small farmers are struggling to survive as erratic weather hits their only source of income. They are seeking government's help to stay afloat until the next harvest, but bureaucrats are moving slowly to record crop losses.
Nevertheless, farmers of Marathwada are preparing to sow seeds in 15 days. President of Farmer Association of Marathwada, Jayaji Suryavamshi, said the government has to come forward with effective policies to support the families of the farmers who have committed suicide. "For those farmers who had to resort to suicide due to faulty policies of the government, pension scheme should be provided to their dependents or rupees 10 lakh should be credited in the account of farmers so that at least the future of their children and family is secured. Or else the suicides of farmers will increase. Children of farmers are quitting farming as they understand that it is no more profitable for them, they are running towards cities but in vain," Suryavamshi said.
For years, unpredictable rainfall decided the pace of farm loan defaults in India, where nearly half the arable land is rain-fed. A drought triggers an increase in bank loan defaulters. In Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, nearly three million hectares of crops have been hit. Crops have been damaged in Rajasthan and Punjab and in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to a lesser extent.
Meanwhile, in Samba district in Jammu and Kashmir people staged protest following the scarcity of potable water for the last one week in their village Ghagwal. However, protesters were charged by police personnel upon staging the demonstration.
"We are asking for our rights, police have turned against us. They are not even sparing women. They baton charged us. My sister was also injured. We are united and we will not take this brutality anymore," said a furious protester, Arif.
The protesters blocked the national highway connecting Jammu and Pathankot for two hours. However, the senior police officials who reached the spot brought the situation under control.