As many as 17 farmers have allegedly committed suicide in the agrarian crisis-hit Vidarbha region of Maharashtra in the last five days, a non-government organisation working for their cause claimed on Monday.
"Vidarbha alone has seen 36 suicides since unseasonal rain and hailstorm that lashed the region since February 25. We have visited the families of 17 farmers who have killed themselves in last five days and the names of the farmers who committed suicide have been collected," Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishor Tiwari said in a statement in Yavatmal.
Among those farmers took the extreme step are -- Shankar Gadmale from Warud Ijara village; Krishnna Wankhede of Sakhara village; Sudharkar Potey of Navargoan; Damadu Rathod of Dattpur, all from the Yavatmal district.
Besides, Vijay Kasture from Bothali; Pantyya Regudwar of Ambe-Dhanora; Subhash Bhogekar of Shanapur village; Abhiman Kale of Borgoan, all from the Chandrapur district ended their lives.
Vasudeo Khule of Padsad village; Suresh Bhusari of Gangapur village; Vijay Dhore of Boregoan village, all from the Nagpur district and Santosh Lichade of Kasahkheda; Yogeshhwar Ladhi of Hiwara village; Raju Ghotekar of Wadner; Bhagvant Mahajan of Dhanora, all from the Wardha district are among those who took the extreme step.
Yashavant Muley of Panchala from Wahim district and Madhav Lanje Nilagodhi from Bhandara district also committed suicide, he claimed.
Tiwari further claimed, "We have seen the pathetic condition of distressed farmers where even officers have not reached."
The Maharashtra government last week declared a relief aid of Rs 4,000 crore but the ground reality is that the list of farmers has not been finalised so far due to the apathy of the bureaucrats, who are busy with the general election schedule, he alleged.
"We are told by the local authorities that relief aid can only be given after election," Tiwari said and added that the farmers whose crops have suffered more than 50 per cent damage will only be given relief.
The hailstorm has affected 28 of the 35 districts destroying crops on over 19 lakh hectares and leaving farmers on the brink.
The rabi wheat, jowar and sugarcane have been damaged and fruit crops including pomegranate, mango, orange and grapes are also affected.
Image: Unseasonal rain and hailstorms have added to the farmers woes
Follow latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections