Friday, 15 May 2015

Suicidal Vidarbha farmers ‘need funds, not lectures’-Gulf News

Suicidal Vidarbha farmers ‘need funds, not lectures’-Gulf News

  • 15 May 2015
  • Gulf News
  • By Pamela Raghunath 
  •  Correspondent

Watchdog criticises authorities for being insensitive to the plight of Maharashtra’s debtridden communities

Debt-ridden farmers in suicide-prone Vidarbha, Maharashtra, are peeved at the Maharashtra government’s plan to start counselling programmes, beginning with the ten worst-hit districts.

A farmers’ watchdog, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) has rebuked the state’s public health minister, Deepak Sawant, as being insensitive to the farmer’s suffering and said the farming community was shocked at this “hostile attempt to address agrarian distress.”

Kishor Tiwari of the VJAS said the “administration already has got the recommendations from dozens of expert commissions, panels, committees and research institutes.

All of these studies urge the government to provide farmers fresh credit, free seed and fertiliser, food and health security, free professional education to the farming community along with direct assistance to daughters’ marriages, Tiwari said.

He hit out at the “ministers who want psychological counselling and a morality check, which is just rubbing salt to the wounds of farmers.”

The dust over the controversial remarks, by state Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse, that farmers do not have the moral strength to fight the agrarian crisis has hardly settled and now, Tiwari said, “the health minister has sparked off a new controversy by announcing a “madness survey” of distressed farmers.

This, he said, was in addition to a state-subsidised project to distribute ‘human urine’ collected from multiplexes in Mumbai and asking farmers to use it instead of chemical fertilisers.That, too, came in the wake of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari stating that ‘human urine’ was good for growth of plants.

On Wednesday, Sawant announced a pilot project in five subregions of the worst-hit Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts for comprehensive physiological and psychiatric counselling for farmers.

Highest number of suicides

Involved in the programme would be local health activists in five regions that were selected after a study of suicide figures and trends. The minister said Osmanabad and Yavatmal were the two districts with highest number of suicides recorded during the past two years.

He had said, “We have to admit that mental health is an issue but it can be treated.” It would also reveal the debt levels of farmers, he said. Khadse had earlier said there was no solution to stop farmers’ suicide, a comment that drew criticism.

Tiwari also came down on the BJP-led NDA government, which has withdrawn subsidies to farmers, calling the move a mockery of an agrarian crisis that is an outcome of wrong economic policies, faulty crop selection and climate change affecting the more than 50 million rural population in the state.

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