Altogether 124 farmers committed suicide in various parts of Maharashtra since January this year, the state government informed the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.
Of these, 20 suicides were reported from Osmanabad alone, a government pleader submitted before a division bench. The high court is hearing a suo motu public interest litigation urging to take steps on a war-footing to prevent farmers from committing suicide.
A week ago, the government had informed that 80 farmers had committed suicide in January 2016. However, on Tuesday, the state government said that 124 farmers had taken their lives in the past 45 days.
"The figure is very alarming...in the last one-and-half months, 124 farmers have killed themselves. We would like to know from the government what steps are being taken to stop this," said Justice Naresh Patil heading a division bench.
Referring to media reports, the court enquired from the government whether it had decided to close down fodder depots in the state. To this, the government pleader said he would have to seek instructions from the state. On January 21, 2016, the state government had told the high court that 1,000 farmers had committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2015. Hearing this, the high court suggested the government to rope-in corporates to deal with the crisis.
The court had earlier suggested that big business houses should be urged either to adopt villages or provide equipment, including tractors, to the farmers for free. The court had also suggested that the government may promote collective farming as a solution. It would especially help the farmers with small land-holding who are unable to recover the cost of cultivation, it said and asked the state to come out with welfare schemes for farmers. The government also informed that the Centre had sanctioned Rs 3,500 crore for helping the distressed farmers in Maharashtra, while the state allocated Rs 2,500 crore. Of this, Rs 14.34 crore has been disbursed so far.
Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court, had earlier said that according to the National Bureau of Crime Records, 15,978 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in the last five years.