From January 2006 to October 2016, as many as 1,313 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra's Wardha district. However, the drought-hit suicide prone district found no mention in the list of beneficiaries of Maharashtra government's massive Rs 34,022 crore loan waiver. In stark contrast, Mumbai city, a district that has no agricultural land features on the list with 813 'farmers' set to benefit from the scheme.
Wardha in the critical Vidarbha region has seen consecutive droughts and a high number of farmer suicides every year. In 2015 alone, 164 farmers committed suicide and these are official government documented numbers. NGOs peg that number higher. Despite the grim situation in which the farmers of Wardha are in, the list does not feature it. The list of indebted farmers was prepared by state-level banking committee based solely on information available with banks. The Maharashtra government now claims that the numbers are not government-endorsed and need to be verified.
The opposition, however, claims that there is a mismatch between numbers given out by the Chief Minister and those recorded by the State Level Bankers' Committee. "Are there no farmers in Wardha or do they not have debts? That there are farmers in Mumbai is news to me. Where are these farmers and where is their land. According to the figures provided by the SLBC, the number of farmers who will be eligible for a loan waiver in Buldhana district is 2.35 lakh but the Chief Minister announced that it was 2.49 lakh. This is an escalated number and there is no clarity," said Ashok Chavan, President Of Maharashtra Congress Committee,
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who on Tuesday claimed that he was surprised to find Mumbai on the list, made a turnabout later. Fadnavis, speaking to reporters said that there was no mistake in the list and that a full and final list with details of beneficiaries will be released by the government soon. "The allegations being levelled by the opposition are false. We will release a full list of beneficiaries including those in Mumbai," he said.
Bankers who were part of the committee that prepared the list claimed that farmers may have been reflected as residents of Mumbai in case loan recovery was delegated to an agency in Mumbai. The Congress has accused the government of producing fake numbers and has decided to convene a meeting on July 10 to decide their next course of action.