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Maharashtra announces psychological health plan to tackle farmer suicides

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By NewsGram Staff-Writer

Mumbai: In order to fight the epidemic of farmer suicides, the Maharashtra government on Friday announced a socio-psychological plan to provide psychological assistance and counseling that may go a long way in preventing farmers from committing suicide.

For representational purpose only. Photo Credit-www.deccanchronicle.com
For representational purpose only. Photo Credit-www.deccanchronicle.com

Maharashtra had been a bed of farmer suicides for last 15 years especially in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Vidarbha has seen a rise in the farmer suicides in the last few months. In 2014, a total of 721 farmers committed suicide. But, in 2015, within the first six months, at least 446 farmers have committed suicide.

A Times of India report has quoted the State health minister Dr Deepak Sawant as saying: “We carried out an audit of the suicides committed in the first six months of 2015 and found that there is a small window period in which most farmers who killed themselves were in an indecisive phase on whether to take the step or not. We want to identify this phase in a farmer’s life and intervene effectively.”

The health plan aims to achieve its objective by hiring more psychiatrists and psychologists in the suicide-prone zones, training community health workers, and hiring counselors on a contract basis, as per the TOI report.

The community health workers including Anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists (ASHAs) will conduct a screening test using questioners to assess and analyze the mental health of the farmers.

For the past few months, the government is running a pilot project in Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts and the program is scheduled to be implemented in 12 other districts by October.

The government resolution (GR) states that it would undertake an expansion of psychiatry and psychology departments in the nine district hospitals and five sub-district hospitals.

The overall expenses, as per the estimation of GR, is expected to be around Rs 23.82 crore.

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The Farmer’s Protest In Delhi Makes The Indian Police Take Severe Steps

The government has allowed police to “brutally beat up” the farmers, said the opposition Congress party.

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Farmer protests
Police use water cannons to disperse farmers during a protest demanding better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian police on Tuesday fired tear gas and water cannons to halt and scatter a march by thousands of protesting farmers heading for the capital New Delhi to demand better prices for their produce.

Reeling from a crash in commodity prices, more than 50,000 farmers from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, a top producer of wheat and cane, blocked part of the main highway to the capital.

They also sought loan waivers, cheaper power and tougher action to get sugar mills to pay dues owed for their cane, as discontent in rural areas turns to anger against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who faces tough general elections next year.

“Despite our repeated requests, the government has failed to help farmers in any meaningful ways,” a farm leader, Dharmendra Malik, told Reuters by telephone from the protest site.

farmers
Police try to stop farmers during a protest demanding a better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

“Left with no choice, we’ve decided to march to Delhi to highlight our plight.”

Cash-strapped sugar companies owe cane growers about 135 billion rupees ($1.9 billion) in the current season. Saddled with huge piles of sugar and hit by a fall in prices, mills have said they are unable to pay farmers on time.

“The state government has initiated a number of steps to help farmers, including a clutch of measures to expedite cane payments to growers,” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told video news agency ANI, a Reuters affiliate.

Mills are struggling to export sugar because of lower global prices, Adityanath said.

Television broadcast images of angry farmers clashing with police and driving their tractors into security barriers, in a protest that disrupted rush-hour traffic.

Farmers
Rural areas turns to anger against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. VOA

Some farmers were injured when police fired tear gas and water cannon to keep protesters from breaking through barricades to reach New Delhi, the site of events to mark the birth anniversary of India’s apostle of non violence, Mahatma Gandhi.

“It’s ironical that the farmers were brutally beaten on the day of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary,” opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said.

Farmers had started trickling into the city late on Monday, prompting authorities to bar gatherings of more than four people.

The government has allowed police to “brutally beat up” the farmers, said the opposition Congress party, which ruled India for most of its 70 years since independence from Britain, before losing power to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Also Read: Asian Farms Tackle Drug Resistance with Apps and Dictionary

“Can India’s farmers not come and tell their own government that they are in deep pain?” asked Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Modi’s rural woes have been worsened by a failure to deliver on a promise of tens of millions of jobs for young people that helped him win the largest mandate in three decades in 2014. (VOA)