Maharashtra Govt. likely to dash hopes of Vidarbha farmers
VJAS | 14 Dec 2011

Hopes of 5 million Vidarbha farmers who are demanding a bailout package are likely to be dashed as Govt plans to reduce the amount of compensation. The move will surely affect the cotton farmers drastically and will lead to increased farmer suicides.

MAHARASHTRA DF Govt. is all set to give another eyewash in the name of Vidarbha farmer package and after the landslide victory in urban local body elections, it is set to dash the hopes of 5 million farmers who are facing severe economical crisis due to massive crop failure. They are demanding a bailout package and hike in MSP of cotton, soybean and paddy. Govt. is adopting wrong agrarian policies and planning to cut amount of compensation to be paid to dying cotton farmers of Vidarbha, as per information being leaked from the office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. This was stated by Kishor Tiwari, president of Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), activist group working for cotton farmer rights and documenting farmer suicides since 1997, in a Press release today.

“After the result of  urban local body  elections on 12th December CM called for a meeting of all senior babus to consider the proposed bailout package and all babus asked CM that bankrupt financial condition  of Maharashtra  can’t  even give Rs.1000/- per hector to 5 million farmers against the demand of Rs.10,000/- and the landslide victory urban local body  elections even in Vidarbha reflects that farmers are happy and only political activists are demanding not the farmer, convinced CM  with arguments of Maharashtra Chief Secretary  and other babus asked them to cut the amount of relief considerably and he assured babus that he will calm down the voices of congress –NCP ministers and MLAs who are demanding higher compensation, this is very un fortunate and will fuel more farmer suicides of Vidarbha,” said Tiwari.

The suicide spiral of debt trapped Vidarbha farmers who are in deep grip of agrarian crisis since 2005 due to successive crop failure and volatile market prices of cotton has added more victims. 11 farmer suicide cases surfaced in first 10 days of December 2011 as they failed to get any relief from state due to technical hurdles created by state election commission’s code of conduct due on going local body election Maharashtra taking total toll to 715 in year 2011.

“We are demanding long term solution to agrarian crisis, not only packages which are mostly contractor driven and designed to rehabilite ill managed politician run cooperative banks. Our farmers are working for handful MNCs who are manufacturing Gm seed, fertilizer and pesticides. Reviving own agriculture is must which is not being done,” Tiwari added.

The Vidarbha agrarian crisis is a result of wrong policies promoted by state and situation of cotton growers in west Vidarbha has worsened when ban on cotton export was imposed last year and massive crop failure this year.

"There is a need for state government's intervention in this regard. The government should provide at least Rs 6,000 per quintal. The chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had promised that he would talk to the union government for better support price for the raw cotton. However, nothing has been done in this regard," Tiwari alleged.

Tiwari continued, "The government did not concede to our demand of providing food security to desperate, distressed and marginal farmers even. The government needs to behave sensibly and responsibly to address farmers' woes and prevent the prevailing spate of suicides in the killing fields of Vidarbha." If the cotton growers do not get better price this season, the situation will assume drastic proportions, he cautioned.

VJAS has urged Govt. of India to send team of expert to assess the Bt. Cotton crop damage in Maharashtra and west Vidarbha in particular where cotton farmers are killing themselves. VJAS has been demanding hike in cotton MSP Rs.6000/- per quintal and relief package to dying cotton farmers of region, Tiwari added.