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422 farmer suicides in 2014 in Marathwada gives BJP govt the jitters

Maharashtra may have seen a change in government after 15 years but farmer suicides continue to make news in the severely drought hit Marathwada region. According to the government records, about 422 farmers have committed suicide in 2014 till date, after failing to bear mounting losses on account of crop failure due to water scarcity and agrarian crisis in the Marathwada region. And of the 422 suicides, in 252 cases, farmers ended their lives due to non repayment of huge agricultural loans.

Of the 252 suicides, 77 took place in Beed, home district of former union minister late Gopinath Munde, 48 in Nanded, home district of former chief minister Ashok Chavan, 34 in Parbhani, 27 in Aurangabad, 19 in Hingooli, 18 in Latur which is the home district of former state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, 15 in Jalna and 14 in Osmanabad. Marathwada is reeling under scarcity for the third consecutive year due to scanty rainfall. Besides, crops were damaged in some districts due to untimely showers.

On the other hand, Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJS), a non government organization tracking such deaths, had claimed last week that the number of farmer suicides in the cotton belt has gone up to 1,022 till now this year. VJS president Kishore Tiwari informed that seven suicides by debt-ridden farmers were reported in the past few days from Vidarbha.

A senior government official told Business Standard that the rising number of farmer suicides is a matter of worry. This has come despite assurance from the newly elected chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on providing assistance. Fadnavis had also assured the farmers of getting a financial package of Rs 4,500 crore from the Centre. Fadnavis had also announced several measures including waiving electricity bills, fees waiver of 10th and 12th class students in drought-hit areas, restructuring of crop loan and stay on recovery of loan.

The government on November 18 has already declared drought like situation in a record 19,069 of the total 39,134 villages where aanewari (crop yield) fell below 50 paise.

All this means a serious challenge to the BJP government in the state especially when the Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have stepped up their attack. Besides, the government will have to face an angry opposition during the winter session beginning December 8 at Nagpur.

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