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Maharashtra govt admits to rising farmer suicides

 

English: This file is a modified version of ht...

English: This file is a modified version of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:IndiaMaharashtra.png. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mumbai, July 28, 2013

Alok Deshpande, The Hindu

The Maharashtra state government has officially admitted to a rising farmer suicide rate that saw, on average, more than three farmers in the state take their own lives every day during the financial year 2012-13. In a written reply to a question raised in the assembly, the government said that 1,166 farmers had committed suicide during the financial year 2012-13.

Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam told the assembly on Friday that farmer suicides in the state had come down. And that this was due to the state’s swift delivery of relief packages. He was answering questions raised in the House on rising farmer suicides in the state.

However, the numbers provided by the government are at odds with those logged by the National Crime Records Bureau. The NCRB, a division of the Union Home Ministry, is the only body that collates suicide data at the national level. NCRB data for Maharashtra in the calendar year 2012 show that at least 3,786 farmer suicides occurred in the state last year — 450 more than the state saw in 2011.

The government further confused its numbers in replies to different questions in the same session. It said 30 drought-hit farmers killed themselves in Osmanabad and Dhule districts in the first five months of this year. In an answer to a specific question about farmer suicides in Dhule district, Mr. Kadam said there had been 16 in the first five months of 2013. In another reply, Mr. Kadam acknowledged only nine suicides in Dhule in that period as, according to him, only that number fell under the norms stipulated by the government. Those norms include crop failure, debt and pressure on the farmer to repay loans.

Besides, in neighbouring Jalgaon district, the government is yet to clear the backlog of 13 years. It admits to 670 farmers ending their lives in that district over that period. Yet, despite the announcement of relief packages worth Rs 3,750 crore from the Centre and Rs 1,075 crore from the State, the government admits that only 411 families have received any relief so far.

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