The Maharashtra government on 22 June 2017 issued a notification appealing its employees to contribute a day's salary to provide financial assistance to families of farmers in the suicide-prone regions of the state.
An official notification of the state government issued from Mumbai says, “Officials, including IAS, IPS and Forest officers, and the workers of the state government, semi-government bodies, and corporations were asked to contribute a day's salary to the Chief Minister's Relief fund in July to help families of farmers.
Besides Chief Minister, his cabinet colleagues, Ministers of state, MLAs and MLCs have also been asked to contribute if they are willing to.
It also states that the money would also be used for educational purposes of farmers’ children.
The Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of the state are traditionally known as the "suicide belts" due to a large number of suicides by farmers reported in these areas over years.
Earlier in the month, the cultivators in various parts of the state resorted to protests for a complete loan waiver and other demands. Following the unprecedented agitation by the farmers, the state government agreed to waive loans of small and marginalised farmers. At present, the government is in the process of laying down the criteria to determine the beneficiaries of the loan waiver.
Previous decisions taken in Maharashtra to end farmers’ problem
To override or to end the farmers’ suicides in the cotton growing belt like Marathwada, Vidarbha and some parts of northern Maharashtra, the state government in August 2015 took a decision to expand the textile hub policy to nine districts across the state. The districts which were shortlisted for developing into textile hubs are Yavatmal, Buldhana, Amravati, Jalna, Parbhani, Nanded, Aurangabad, Beed and Jalgaon.
The decision was taken with an aim to create a textile township with provisions for multiple activities from processing to marketing within the hub.
In addition, the state government in July 2015 tried to bring a personal approach to curb the incidences of farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra. Under this approach, preachers, singers and street-play artists were asked to go from street-to-street and door-to-door and talk to the women and children of suicide-stricken families and make them aware of the concept of the spirit of life.
As a precautionary route, the state government also came up with a two-layered structure of committees at the village level and the district level in Marathawad and Osmanabad.
About the Village level committee
This village level committee would have functioned under the sarpanch of the village. The sarpanch will be responsible for identifying the most distressed families who were suffering due to crop loss or heavy burden of debt.
It was decided that the state government will grant a fund of Rs 1 lakh per village-level committee. The sum would have been granted with an aim to help the farmers in distress.
The village-level committees comprised of two farmers, four eminent persons from the village, an Anganwadi worker, the talathi among others.
About district-level committee
The district-level committee headed by the district collector was formed to supervise village-level committees and ensure benefits of government schemes such as those for food security, health, and education are directed to the distressed families based on their eligibility.
Other members of the district-level committee were the police superintendent, the Zilla Parishad chief executive, district agriculture officer, and medical officer, among others.
It was decided that the district-level committee will operate with a budget of Rs 10 crore a year. The committee was supposed to make efforts to rope in local organisations, trusts, charities and cooperatives to financially contribute as part of their corporate social responsibility.