Well-known economist Dr. Vijay Kelkar Friday visited Yavatmal in the crisis-ridden Vidarbha region of Maharashtra to review the imbalance of progress in the region, an activist said.
“Vidarbha has seen a long list of complex issues including agrarian crisis, tribal malnutrition, poor infrastructure, lack of employment-generating industries and cotton processing textile hub,” Kishor Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), an activist group working for cotton farmers’ rights in Vidarbha.
Tiwari said Kelkar also admitted that Vidarbha needs long-term planning to restore agriculture and environment that will provide opportunities to tackle the various issues.
Kelkar was in Yavatmal to gather details on a special report he is working on regarding the ongoing agrarian crisis that has claimed more than 10,000 cotton farmers’ lives. He will then submit the report to the governor of Maharashtra.
“As a single-man committee, Kelkar interacted with farmers and farm widows of the region in Yavatmal town and looked into the last 52 years of imbalance of progress and regional backlog resulting in mass genocide of Vidarbha dry land farmers,” Tiwari said.
Tiwari, however, expressed concern over such visits and the subsequent inaction on part of state and central governments. He also said he has high hopes of proper action after Kelkar’s visit, as he is originally from Akola in Vidarbha and well aware of the ground reality.
“We have demanded a separate state of Vidarbha, as that is the only option left in order to save three million debt trapped cotton farmers, where one farmer is committing suicide every eight hours,” Tiwari said.
“Since 2005, all relief packages in the name of farmers are being siphoned off by western Maharashtra political leaders, which only adds to the crisis in Vidarbha,” Tiwari alleged.
On March 2, a 37-member parliamentary standing committee headed by Basudeo Acharya visited Vidarbha to review farmers’ suicides in the region.
As many as 918 farmers from Vidarbha ended their lives because of the agrarian crisis in 2011.