Thursday, November 22, 2012

'If the farmers are ending lives, blame it on their destiny'

That is what BJP chief R C Faldu had to say about suicides by 10 farmers in Saurashtra in the past one month due to drought, fodder scarcity and resulting financial crisis


    Gujarat may be bracing for agricultural crisis. Drought in the state has begun taking a toll on the lives of farmers in Saurashtra, which with only 25 per cent seasonal rainfall is among the worst-hit areas. In the past one month, 10 farmers have committed suicides of which four are from Amreli district -- the constituency of agricultural minister Dileep Sanghani -- four from Rajkot and one from JunagadhandonefromJamnagardistricts. On Monday, 90-year-old Mohanbhai Gohil from Amreli jumped into the well after he saw his dried-up cotton field and learnt about the family's debts.
    The farmers in Saurashtra are staringattwomainproblems,failedcrops and fodder scarcity. While the central government has announced Rs 320-crore aid for drought relief in Gujarat, the state is yet to take proactive steps like providing drinking water and fodder for cattle to help the farmers, say sources. Worse, it denies the suicides have anything to do with debts.
    StateBJPchiefRCFalduhadaratherinsensitiveremarktomake.Hesaid, “If people commit suicide due to losses in business, blame it on their fate. Thesameisthecasewiththefarmers.”
    He added, “Our government is taking several steps to deal with drought situation. District collectors have already prepared a plan for provision of fodder and water. A ministers' committee has also been formed to take necessary measures and monitor the situation.”
    Butsourcesclaimthestategovernment is turning a blind eye to the problem. “Home minister has instructed the police department that wherever an FIR isregisteredabout farmer's suicides, they should not mention it is duetodrought,” alleges a source.
    Amreli SP Shobha Bhutada said, “Four suicide cases have been registered in Amreli. In all thecases,thevictims ended life due to financial crisis. And in all the cases, the crops had failed.”
    Agriculture Minister Dileep Sanghani said, “While media is making a hue and cry about farmers' suicides attributing them to drought situation and resulting financial crisis, I don't think that is the reason.Wehaveseenworsesituations in the past, but even then no suicides had taken place. Moreover, the banks that have provided loanstothefarmers are lenient since they have not been insisting on repayments. I think the issue is being politicised because the elections are nearing.”
Gujarat EDN
IE 22AUG2012