Setting out on a padyatra today to meet farmers in the Vidarbha region of the state, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was told by several of them that insurance companies were engaging in fraud and that the requisite compensation was not paid to them for crop loss.
Rahul this morning launched his ‘sanvad yatra’ from Gunji village in Maharashtra’s Amravati district to highlight farmers’ woes and the agrarian situation in the region.
He will be visiting five villages between Gunji to Ramgaon and will meet the farmers who have suffered crop losses due to unseasonal rain as also the families of those who have committed suicide over crop loss.
Sitting on a jute mat at a temple in Hirapur village, the Congress vice president gave a patient hearing to a group of marginal farmers.
The villagers alleged that “insurance companies were only selecting sample areas for giving compensation while the rest of the farmers were being deprived by them of the benefits due”.
“The insurance companies send their agents who mop up business for foreign giants as an incentive but, ultimately, it is the poor farmer who loses,” a villager, Pandurang, complained to Rahul.
Some of them said that pesticides and fertilisers were being supplied to them at high prices even though the cost of production of such items was quite less.
The villagers also drew Rahul’s attention to the damage their soya crop has suffered in the unseasonal rainfall. Soyabean prices have crashed heavily due to the damages, another farmer said.
Hailing Rahul’s initiative in opposing the Land Acquisition Bill, 2015, in Parliament, the villagers said they was apprehension that farm land would be acquired for business.
Nearly 171 farmers have committed suicide from 2006 to 2014 in Dhamangaon taluka of the district, the villagers informed the Congress leader.
Under a scorching sun, Rahul went on foot from village to village. The padyatra saw the participation of a large number of Congress workers, particularly from Youth Congress, waving the party flag, banners and posters.Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly and former state agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who was also present at the farmers’ meeting, explained the intricacies of the crop insurance scheme to the 44-year-old Congress Vice President.
AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik and Congress Rajya Sabha member Avinash Pandey, too, were among those who accompanied Rahul.
Earlier, in Gunji, Rahul met the family members of farmers Nilesh Walke and Ambadas Vahile who committed suicide recently.
Gunji, with a population of 1,200, was the first stop in the ‘padyatra’ where Rahul also interacted briefly with a group of children from orphanages.
Subsequently, he marched to Shahpur village, another area which has seen a high incidence of farmers’ suicides. Situated 5-km away from Gunji in Amravati district, it is represented by Virendra Jagtap of Congress in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Maharashtra is one of the states grappling with a severe agrarian crisis and Amravati division of Vidarbha region has witnessed many farmer suicides this year.