Mumbai: Since January 124 farmers have committed suicides in the Marathwada region following severe drought conditions, the state government told the Bombay high court on Tuesday. The advocate general also wondered about Naxalite influence on farmers. The court, hearing a suo motu PIL converted out of a TOI report, sought the Centre’s response on what help it will give at the next hearing. A bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Amjad Sayed asked advocate general Shreehari Aney why farmers continue to end their lives. Pointing out that fodder camps are being shut and even surgeries postponed in Latur hospitals the bench asked if the government has a contingency plan for March, April and May. “Already we have seen over thousand deaths (last year). Even the best efforts are not helping,” said Justice Patil. Aney explained that the main reasons for farmer suicides is crop failure due to extreme drought and inability to repay loans.
He rued the government’s inability to reach the grassroots and said that high-level officers need to rush to the site. “This is not happening because we have a machinery which moves at its own speed,” said Aney. Asked what is driving farmers to commit suicide, he answered, “A sense of hopelessness. Waiting for the monsoon. Wife and children to feed. What does a man do?” He added “Such disasters strip him of dignity and self respect. A man commits suicide.” Aney said Marathwada and Vidharbha are and depend on natural rains for crops and not irrigation. He said there was only 30 percent institutionalized deliveries because there are no doctors and nurses in hospitals. “Seventy percent women give birth on roads, huts and in forests. Then we wonder why naxalism comes in,” said Aney.