In a noble gesture, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil on Thursday adopted 208 families of farmers who had committed suicide due to the agrarian crisis in the state. These families are among the poorest and had lost their sole breadwinners. They will now be supported in various ways by Vikhe-Patil.
A function was organised here on Thursday evening to adopt the families on the occasion of Vikhe-Patil's 60th birthday, through an NGO launched in the name of his father who was farmers' leader and former union minister, the Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil Foundation.
At least one family member from each of the adopted families would be provided jobs in various institutions or cooperatives, women would be given vocational jobs or loans from women's organisations, education for children, help for marriage of daughters, and medical aid and family accident insurance policies would be ensured, said Foundation head Sujay R. Vikhe-Patil.
"These families are already covered under some or the other government schemes, but we surveyed and found that the official aid was not sufficient to support them. Hence, the Foundation will now contribute and improve their condition," Sujay said.
"Our job is not only to oppose the government. We shall work aggressively to fight politically with the government for the farmers' rights and dues. At the same time, we are launching this initiative to offer tangible help to the distressed families," said Radhakrishna said.
Addressing the gathering, well-known social worker Shantilal Mutha made a disturbing revelation about how studies had shown that one-third of the children of farmers who ended their lives were also prone to suicide, and therefore, must be helped.
Earlier, Bollywood personalities Nana Patekar, Makarand Anaspure, Akshay Kumar and others have also extended different types of help to distressed farmers in the state.
The programme came barely days after an 11-day farmers' agitation was held across Maharashtra and culminated with the state government announcing a string of schemes, including farm loans waiver, on June 11.
Maharashtra ranks among the states worst-affected by the agrarian crisis aggravated by various factors, including natural, leading to a large number of suicides by farmers unable to repay their debts to banks or private money-lenders.
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