Cong slams Modi over plight of Marathwada farmers

Elaborating on what he said were “jumla” details, Ramesh said that in the first half of 2023, the Marathwada region accounted for the highest number of farmer suicides in Mahrashtra…reports Asian Lite News

The Congress on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ignoring the plight of farmers in Marathwada, and also asked what is his vision to address water scarcity in that region.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions to the prime minister ahead of his rallies in Marathwada region of Maharashtra.

“Why has the PM ignored the plight of Marathwada’s farmers? What is the PM’s vision to address water scarcity in Marathwada? Why has the export ban only been lifted on Gujarat’s white onions?” Ramesh said in a post on X.

Elaborating on what he said were “jumla” details, Ramesh said that in the first half of 2023, the Marathwada region accounted for the highest number of farmer suicides in Mahrashtra.

“As many as 685 farmers took their own lives in Marathwada and the State Agriculture Minister’s home district, Beed, reported the highest number of deaths at 186. Now, after suffering from drought conditions for the last four months, the Marathwada region has been hit by unseasonal rains and hailstorms, causing severe crop losses, The ruling BJP government has not declared this event a national disaster or announced any relief measures,” Ramesh said.

This is no surprise from a government that has also “failed” to care for the Godavari river, which is considered the lifeline of Marathwada, he said.

“Although 88 crores were allocated for the cleaning of the river in 2022, there has been no tangible improvement in water quality. Similarly, Manjra river that passes through Latur has also been neglected,” he claimed.

“What are PM Modi and the BJP doing to protect Marathwada’s farmers from drought and natural disasters? What is their vision to prevent farmer suicides?” he said.

Ramesh further said that more than 600 villages and 178 hamlets in Marathwada have become dependent on water tankers amidst an acute drinking water shortage.

“Most of Maharashtra is facing a water shortage this year but Marathwada has been the worst affected with drinking water reservoirs only at 19 per cent capacity, compared to 40 per cent last year,” he said.

In Latur, water availability has come down to once in 15 days, he noted.

“Instead of trying to address this catastrophe, BJP leaders have shirked responsibility, played the blame game, and failed to address allegations of widespread corruption in the implementation of relief and support schemes,” Ramesh alleged.

What is the PM’s vision to tackle water scarcity in Marathwada, he asked.

He also raised the issue that since December 2023, onion farmers in Maharashtra have been reeling from the Modi government’s ban on onion exports.

“During the cultivation season, the state was hit with unsatisfactory rainfall and water crises, and most farmers were only able to produce 50 per cent of their usual crop. When onions were finally harvested, farmers were faced with an arbitrary export ban which led to devastatingly low sale prices,” Ramesh said.

As a result, farmers have racked up significant losses in the last five months, he said.

“To add insult to injury, yesterday, the Modi Sarkar allowed the export of white onions which are primarily grown in Gujarat. Maharashtrian farmers, who primarily grow red onions, have been left out. Can PM Modi explain why his government is playing favourites? Why have they so callously neglected Maharashtra’s onion farmers?” Ramesh said.

The Congress Nyay Patra promises a stable, predictable import-export policy to prevent such catastrophic last-minute policies being imposed on farmers, he said. “What is the Modi Sarkar’s vision to assure farmers of policy stability?” Ramesh said and asked the prime minister to break his “silence” on these issues.

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