At a time when drought has been declared in about half of Maharashtra - about 150 tehsils out of 360 - a Right to Information query has revealed that the number of farmer suicides in the state has doubled in the last four years.
In a letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Maharashtra government says between 2011 and 2014, which is when the Congress-NCP was in power, 6,268 famers committed suicide. The number rose sharply by 91 per cent to 11,995 from January 2015 till the end of 2018.
"The core issues of farmers related to the distress in the rural area is mostly related to the credit, cost and the crop pattern adopted by the farmers. The issues of health, rural unemployment and natural climate are also very significant," Kishore Tiwari, head of Vasantrao Shetti Swawalamban Mission, Maharashtra government, told NDTV.
In the last four years, three saw deficient rainfall. In a bid to prevent suicides, the Maharashtra government has even announced a farm loan waiver for the state in June 2017. The government is also working towards making Maharashtra drought free by 2019 by the way of Jalyukta Shivar, however, the figures show otherwise.
In the last four years, Amravati division, commonly known as Vidarbha, recorded highest number of suicides, at 5,214.
This was followed by Aurangabad division, also known as Marathwada, with 4,699 farmer suicides.
"Most of the farmer suicides take place because of moneylenders. They harass the farmers, not government banks. They should be controlled," an RTI activist Jeetendra Ghadge told NDTV.
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