Farmer Suicides In Maharashtra Almost Doubled In 4 Yrs: RTI
The number of farmer suicides has almost doubled in Maharashtra, during the last four years, as per a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query. The information was received from the Revenue Department on the request of RTI activist Jeetendra Ghadge.
As per the response, there were 6268 farmer suicides from 2011 till 2014 when Congress-NCP was in power. The number almost doubled to 11,995 between 2015 and 2018 under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena regime.
91% rise in farmer suicides
The RTI reveals that the highest number of farmer suicide cases have emerged from Amravati Division of the suicide-prone districts in Vidarbha region of the state. Incidentally, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, as well as Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, hail from Nagpur in Vidarbha.
The RTI reply also revealed that the designated compensation of Rs 1,00,000 has been denied to families of such farmers. In 2014, kin of 1358 farmers received compensation while 674 cases were rejected. In 2018, the number of cases rejected has increased to 1050 while the approved cases have decreased to 1330. Amravati division, which has seen the highest number of farmer suicide cases has also seen the majority of compensation cases being rejected. In 2016 and 2018, more cases were rejected than approved.
Compensation and insurance partly implemented
Notably, in March 2015, the then Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse had announced in the assembly that the compensation to families of these farmers would be increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. In addition to this, he also announced a life insurance policy covering all farmers. The RTI revealed that the implementation is still pending.
“The situation of Farmers has worsened, loan waivers or crop insurance doesn’t seem to work. Besides, when it comes to rehabilitation of the family whose member have committed suicides, the government seems to reject the majority of the proposals for compensation of just Rs 1 lakh,” RTI activist Ghadge said.
In reference to the life insurance scheme for farmers, as announced by Khadse, a scheme called the “Gopinath Munde Accident Insurance Scheme” was formulated in December 2018. However, a close look into the circular shows that it covers ‘accidents’ and does not mention the word ‘suicide’.
“It’s shocking that the insurance scheme which covers all farmers does not cover Suicides. The Government seems to make only announcements but does not follow up with action,” Ghadge adds.