Being worried about the spate in farmers' suicides in the cotton heartland, the Yavatmal district administration has submitted a proposal to the state government which in turn issued a GR on July 24, 2015 wherein it resolved to make two districts — Usmanabad and Yavatmal — suicide free in two years. The government suggested the district administration to launch project 'Baliraja Chetana Abhiyan' aiming to create mass awareness among the distressed farmers across the district about the government-sponsored schemes for their welfare and also dissuade them from committing suicide.
"So far, we have brought down the suicides to half as compared to the last year and the declining trend is encouraging us," said collector Sachindra Pratap Singh.
State has allotted Rs32 crore annually for the implementation of the scheme to be carried out in the district in next three years for which the responsibility has been set on the shoulders of the district level committee to supervise the scheme through the village level committee headed by the sarpanch of the respective village. Among the objectives of the Baliraja Chetana Abhiyan, a survey has been conducted to ascertain the distressed families in the villages and they have been made aware of the government schemes and encouraged them to avail maximum benefits of the schemes.
The scheme entails mass marriages for the daughters of the farmers, counselling to minimize the mental stress of the farmers, boost the morale of the farmers through health care camps, training to educated youths for setting up small industrial units and encouraging the farmers to join the village based cooperative credit societies.
The abhiyan was launched in Yavatmal in July 2015 which has gradually spread to the remote villages in nine months. Kirtankars, prabodhankars, pravachankars, art groups, NGOs and other voluntary organizations have been clubbed together and they ave started extending their support to the cause. Some philanthropists have also extended support to the success of the programmes.
Some of the notable initiatives taken by the district administration are:
- Compound walls of collectorate were painted with success stories of farmers, their issues and motivating slogans and teachings of saints and leaders, district collectorate premises was opened for the farmers to market their agriculture produces which was extended to the tehsils.
- 200 nodal officers were appointed to supervise the implementation of the government schemes, setting up of skill development, employment and entrepreneur guidance centre for 300 candidates with the input cost of Rs60 lakh and the rehabilitation of the drought hit farmers by restructuring their defaulted crop loan and providing them fresh crop loan without NOC from the banks and credit societies.
- Besides the restructuring of crop loan dues, the district administration has sanctioned over 3,000 farm wells, energy connections to 10,000 pumps, JAL yukta Shivar, MGNREGA works, Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Arogya Yojana and other schemes which seem to be a boon for the farmers in crisis.
- Above all, 244 marriages of farmers children were solemnized in five mass marriage ceremonies in five tehsils.
- "At least 15 sarpanches and gram sevaks were summoned to explain why suicides were reported from their villages after the launch of Baliraja Chetana Abhiyan," Singh said, adding, "1,503 out of 1,848 villages have been granted Rs1 lakh to thwart the suicide recurring in their villages."
"Yavatmal model of Baliraja Chetana Abhiyan can be a role model for the entire country where farmers are committing suicide," Singh said