Seven farmers have committed suicide in Vidarbha in the first fortnight of 2013. Two debt-ridden cotton farmers staring at drought-induced crop loss — Sanjay Mohurle, 42, of Dorli village and Ramu Shende, 34, of Manoli village in the Ghatanji tehsil of Yavatmal district — committed suicide on Monday.
With four of the other five suicides also from Yavatmal (one is from Akola), it has underlined yet again how Vidarbha continues to be the epicentre of the agrarian crisis which has forced nearly 8,500 dryland farmers to end their lives across the district due to debt since 2005. On an average, three farmers kill themselves every 24 hours in the region, which has been reeling under its worst agrarian crisis.
The crisis in Vidarbha is due to truant rainfall leading to massive crop failure in cotton, paddy,
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pulses and soybean.
DNA on Monday reported how the Centre’s announcement last Thursday of Rs778 crore as aid for drought assistance to Maharashtra from the National Disaster Response Fund left out any mention of the crisis sweeping through the Vidarbha region.“The government’s aggressive drive to push GM cotton in order to benefit one bio-tech MNC since 2005 only cruelly compounded the problems faced by farmers. Now though the government has had a rethink on GM cotton, the damage is done and farmers trapped in debt spirals are not finding a way out,” lamented Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti which has been spearheading the farm rights movement in the region. “Unless the government wakes up to this crisis, the coming summer could see this problem only getting worse.”
Maharashtra’s agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil could not be reached for comment.