The Maharashtra government has officially admitted to a rising > farm suicide rate that saw, on an average, more than three farmers taking their own lives every day in the financial year 2012-13.
In a written reply to a question raised in the Assembly, the government said 1,166 farmers committed suicide in the financial year.
Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam told the House on Friday that farm suicides had come down. And this was due to the State’s swift delivery of relief packages.
Totally at odds
However, the numbers provided by the government are totally at odds with those logged by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the only body that collates suicide data at the national level. It is in fact a division of the Union Home Ministry.
NCRB data for Maharashtra in 2012 show that at least 3,786 farm suicides occurred last year. And that is almost 450 more than the State saw in 2011. (The Hindu, June 29, 2013: >Farm suicide trends in 2012 remain dismal )
The government further confused its numbers in replies to different questions in the same session. It says 30 drought-hit farmers killed themselves in Osmanabad and Dhule districts in the first five months of this year.
To a specific question about farm suicides in Dhule district, Mr. Kadam said there were 16 in the first five months of 2013.
In another reply, he acknowledged only nine farm suicides in Dhule in that period as, according to him, only that number fell under the norms stipulated by the government. Those norms include crop failure, debt and pressure on the farmer to repay loans.
Besides, in the neighbouring Jalgaon district, the government is yet to clear the backlog of 13 years. It admits to 670 farmers ending their lives in that district over that period.
Yet, despite the announcement of relief packages worth Rs. 3,750 crore from the Centre and Rs. 1,075 crore from the State, the Maharashtra government admits that only 411 families had received any relief so far.