Sromona Bhattacharyya Bhattacharyya
Hailing from Kolkata and now a resident of Bengaluru, Sromona is a multimedia journalist who has a knack for digging stories that truly deserve attention.
The Maharashtra government has said that under its programme ‘Prerna’, over 90,000 farmers in 14 suicide-prone districts of the states have been provided “counselling”. According to Business Standard, the counselling programme has been underway since 2015 to stop farmers from committing suicides. The programme comprises of social workers, ASHA and psychiatrists among others who counsel farmers who might otherwise be suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.
An official release from the government stated that in the last three years 2000 medical officers, 10,000 semi-health staff and over 20,000 ASHA workers have been trained on the much-talked-about topic of mental health. Health Minister Eknath Shinde in the statement has said that these people after receiving the training has surveyed the 14 districts for counselling. The statement said that while 8,000 farmers were counselled individually, 6,000 others were counselled publicly. Moreover, on its helpline number 104, over 26,000 calls have been placed by farmers in distress. Moreover, the 14 districts now have a total of 20,913 ASHA workers.
According to Hindustan Times, between January 2015 and December 2018, Maharashtra saw 12,006 farmer suicides. The state reported 2,761 farmer suicides in 2018 as compared to 2,917 in the previous year. Vijay Jawandhia of Shetkari Sanghatana told the daily, “The situation wouldn’t have changed even if any other party was at the helm. The agrarian policies of all governments have gone wrong. Farmers need to get cash subsidy, like the one given in Telangana. Farmers’ distress is owing to high input cost and low price for produce, despite high production.”
Of the total 2,761 cases of farmer suicides, 1,330 were eligible for ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh while others were reportedly ineligible. Although there has been a dip in the number of farmer suicide cases as compared to 3,063 deaths in 2016 and 3,263 deaths in 2015, the present numbers are far from being satisfactory.
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