Two days after Maharashtra government informed the high court that 1,000 farmers committed suicide in the state in 2015, figures provided by its relief and rehabilitation department have now revealed that the total number of farmers, who ended their lives last year stands at 3,228.
The state government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that as many as 1,000 farmers killed themselves in Maharashtra in 2015. However, the relief and rehabilitation department revealed that the total number of farmers' suicides add up to 3,228, of which 1,841 farmers were eligible for compensation.
The state Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse claimed that while both the figures were "correct", what the government submitted in HC was the number of farmers who had killed themselves purely for farm-related reasons and hence are eligible for compensation.
Nonetheless, the opposition Congress has taken the opportunity to slam the BJP-led state government and vowed to take up the issue in the next Assembly session.
The figures provided by the relief and rehabilitation department reveal that the highest number of suicides were from the Amravati division (1,179), followed by Aurangabad division (1,130). 459 farmers committed suicide in the Nashik division, 362 in Nagpur, 96 in Pune and two in Konkan division.
"Though there are a large number of farmers' suicides, those eligible for compensation are comparatively less. For 2015, out of the total 3,228, as many as 1,842 farmers are eligible for compensation from the state government," an official from the department said.
Criticising the state government for its "extremely casual attitude", senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan demanded that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis immediately clarify the government's stand on the issue.
"This just shows the extremely casual attitude of government towards farm crisis. One department does not know what the other one is doing. Informing the court about only 1,000 suicides amounts to contempt of court and misleading the judiciary. Action must be taken against the officers, who briefed the lawyers and the CM must come forward and clarify the government's position," Chavan added.
"We will take it up with the Governor and in both Houses of the Legislature in the upcoming Assembly session," the former Chief Minister added.
Responding to the charges, Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse said that the figures submitted to the Bombay HC are true and those were the total number of farmers, who had committed suicide for farm-related reasons.
"Both the figures (those submitted to the Bombay HC and that from the relief and rehabilitation department) are correct. A farmer can commit suicide for various reasons. What we have stated to the HC is the total number of farmers, who, according to the criteria of the government, have committed suicide for farm-related reasons," Khadse told