Indian Agrarian Crisis now moved to

Farmer-the most endangered species

Farmers’ suicide issue rocks Maharshtra upper house

Posted by Ramoo on March 27, 2007…

Special Correspondent

  • Very little relief reached farmers: BJP
  • Fall in suicide rate: Government

    MUMBAI: The Opposition on Monday expressed fears in the Maharashtra Legislative Council that the incidence of farmers’ suicides could grow at a faster rate as the trend was spreading from the cotton-growing belt of Vidarbha to sugar cane-growing areas of the Marathwada region.

    Tempers ran high as Leader of the Opposition Pandurang Phundkar (BJP) and others said as many as nine debt-ridden farmers ended their lives in Vidarbha in the past 24 hours as very little of the relief packages announced by the State and the Centre had reached the farmers.

    Forces special debate

    The Opposition not only forced an adjournment but also a special debate on the suicides, leaving aside the agenda, which included a debate on Budget.

    Mr. Phundkar said 275 farmers had committed suicides in the last three months and now sugar cane growers of Marathwada and Chief Minister’s home district Latur also started resorting to the extreme step. He said 3,500 farmers had taken their lives in the past seven years.

    Mr. Phundkar said the distress among the cane growers was growing as 9 lakh tonnes of sugar cane was unlikely to be bought by the mills as the crushing season was ending.

    Maharashtra BJP president Nitin Gadkari said the State had not received funds for implementing the Centre’s relief package. He accused the Government of having diverted Rs. 712 crore to co-operative banks against farmers’ debts.

    Replying to the debate, Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil said the suicide rate had been falling since June last, thanks to relief package. It had come down from 44 deaths in September 2006 to 34 in December 2006. But he did not comment on the last three months’ figures quoted by the Leader of the Opposition.

    Mr. Patil said that of the 196 lakh tonnes of sugar cane yield, 129 lakh tonnes would be crushed. The Government would see that sugar mills worked till May-end to crush all the cane.

    He said the Government would even requisition vehicles to help mills to transport cane from fields to their facilities. He warned the mills that they would attract heavy penalty if they ended crushing and closed down without Government’s permission.

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