Nagpur: The phenomenon of farmers’ suicides has continued unabated since years and Vidarbha region has been the worst-hit in this regard. Political parties do not miss an opportunity to target each other over this issue, whether they are in power or in the opposition. The period of slightly over two-and-a-half years of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) rule till June 2022 also was no exception.
As per the latest data with the administration, during the said period, Nagpur Division alone witnessed 868 suicides by farmers. The data for the sad saga of farmers’ suicides is available since the year 2001. In Nagpur Division, in the fifteen years between 2001 and 2015, total 3,086 suicides by farmers were reported. Of these many cases, only 1,527 qualified for aid and 1,559 were rejected as ‘ineligible’ for aid to family members of deceased farmers.
From 2016, till 2019, the number of farmers’ suicides actually kept on declining steadily, reveals the official data. However, in 2020 and 2021, the number of farmers’ suicides shot up. Interestingly, MVA comprising three of the four major political parties of Maharashtra came to power in November end of 2019. It remained in power till June-end of 2022. In March 2020, Maharashtra saw COVID-19 pandemic. Though farming activities continued to feed the population that was suffering due to lockdown and restrictions, the data available with the administration reveals that farmers continued to suffer.
In 2020, Nagpur Division reported 307 suicides by farmers, followed by 380 suicides in 2021. In fact, till the end of June 2022, Nagpur Division reported 181 more suicides by farmers. Thus, even if one leaves the last month of 2019, Nagpur Division alone witnessed suicides by 868 farmers during two-and-a-half year period of MVA rule.
Of these 868 suicides, 374 cases were found to be ‘eligible’ for aid, and 456 were termed as ‘ineligible’. As many as 38 cases since 2021 are still under investigation. Nagpur Division comprises six districts namely Nagpur, Wardha, Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur, and Gadchiroli. Among these six districts,Wardha is the worsthit with 403 suicides. Of total 868 suicides in Nagpur Division, Wardha district alone has thus reported 46.42 per cent of suicides. It is followed by Chandrapur district with 212 suicides by farmers, Nagpur with 140 suicides, Bhandara with 80, Gondia with 29, and Gadchiroli with four suicides.
As far as Nagpur district is concerned, in 2020 and 2021 it reported 119 suicides by farmers. Of these, only 30 cases were found ‘eligible’ for aid and 89 were ‘ineligible’. During the current year 2022, the first six months of MVA rule saw 21 suicides, of which maximum 14 were‘eligible’ for aid to family members and only seven were rejected. However, the number of farmers’ suicides has not stopped. In four months of July to October 2022, Nagpur district has reported 32 suicides of which only two have been found ‘eligible’ for aid and remaining 30 cases are ‘under investigation’.
During this period of monsoon, Nagpur Division as a whole has reported 108 suicides by farmers of which 97 are under investigation, four have been rejected, and seven have been found ‘eligible’ for aid. If one considers wider time-period between 2001 and October 2022, Nagpur Division has reported a whopping 5,277 suicides by farmers.
Of these, as per administrative norms, 2,590 were found to be ‘eligible’ for aid, 2,552 were ‘ineligible’, and 135 are still under investigation. So far, in 2,590 ‘eligible’ cases, aid of Rs 25,58 crore has been distributed to the family members of the deceased farmers. The issue of farmers’ suicides is expected to figure during the Winter Session of Maharashtra Legislature starting in Nagpur from December 19. This will be the first Winter Session to be held in Nagpur since 2019. December 2019 was the only Winter Session held at Nagpur during MVA rule.