Mumbai: Maharashtra Minister Babanrao Lonikar today said he would organise a mass wedding ceremony in rural Maharashtra as part of efforts to curb farmers' suicides in drought-affected regions of the state.
Lonikar said the ceremony will take place on April 24 at Partur village of Jalna district where 551 couples will tie the knot.
Jalna district falls in Marathwada region which is facing severe water scarcity.
"Marrying off a daughter is very difficult for poor farmers. Many of them take huge loans as it becomes a prestige issue for them to carry out the customs and traditions related to a marriage ceremony," Lonikar told reporters here.
"This, too, becomes a cause of suicide for the farmer who is unable to repay the debt," he said, explaining the reason behind organising the event.
Mass marriages are organised to curb farmer suicides and prevent peasants from selling off their property, the Water Supplies Minister said. "It is sad farmers have to sell their properties for their daughters' marriage and thereby jeopardising their own future."
"We will also provide them (the couples) essential household items. On behalf of government, we have planned to issue them a sanction letter to construct a toilet block," the Minister said.
This is not the first time Lonikar is organising such an event. "I have already arranged over 400 marriages in various programmes in the past.
Yesterday, State BJP President Raosaheb Danve had hosted a mass wedding ceremony in Jalna for 527 couples. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was also present.
Shiv Sena, too, recently held mass weddings of 333 couples in Parbhani and 244 couples in Aurangabad in the presence of party chief Uddhav Thackeray and Governor C Vidyasagar Rao.