Maharashtra Agriculture Minister and 15 lawmakers and officials from the legislative assembly are on 'study tour' as part of the state still grapple with the problem of drought.
Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar and other MLAs have flown to Australia and New Zealand for two weeks to study how those countries handle loans to farmers. A one-day stop in Singapore has also been planned.
According to reports, the cost of the trip amounts to a whopping Rs 1.2 crore which is paid by the tax payers.
Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan slammed ministers for the foreign trip. He said, ' Instead of attending to crisis,state Agriculture Minister, Food and Public distribution Minister have gone abroad as a part of legislative delegation'
Meanwhile, the opposition parties met governor C. Vidyasagar Rao, Shiv Sena ministers met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the demand to hold a special session of Assembly to discuss farm loan waiver.
Farmer suicide continues:
Sadly, the problem of farmer suicides is worsening in Maharashtra, with the number of such deaths increasing in the last two years (2014, 2015) after the BJP-led government came to power, a reply to an RTI query has found.
As per data provided by Revenue Department to the RTI query by an activist Jitendra Ghadge, following are the year-wise figures of farmer suicides in recent years: 1296 in 2013; 1981 in 2014 and 3228 in 2015.
From January 1 to June 2016, 2,053 farmer suicide cases have been reported, with Amaravati division leading with 692 cases.
In the last 15 years, 20,873 cases of farmer suicides were reported, of which, 9,907 cases were found to be "fit for compensation".
As many as 10,390 cases were found to be "ineligible" for compensation while an inquiry was pending in 576 cases. Of these 576 cases of suicide, 484 took place in 2015.
(With agency inputs)