Gandhinagar: Congress MLA from Jamnagar, Raghavji Patel on Friday alleged that as many as 614 farmers committed suicide during the last ten years in Gujarat on account of government apathy.
"As per an RTI application, a total of 614 farmers in Gujarat committed suicide between 2003-2013 due to crop failure, mounting debt and inability to repay their loans," said Patel in his speech at the Assembly during the discussion on budgetary allocations made to state Agriculture and Co-operation department.
"The state government always provided a rosy picture about agriculture sector in Gujarat. However, reality is quite different. Is this your `Gujarat Model` which you wish to implement in other states,?" Patel asked State Agriculture Minister Babu Bokhiria, who was also present in the House.
After Patel`s claims on farmer suicides, several BJP MLAs raised objection, forcing Assembly Speaker Vaju Vala to step in. He asked Patel to authenticate his claims.
"It is our rule that a member must provide the sources from which he derived the data and submit it to the House. If you fail to do so, your claim about suicides will be removed from the records of the House," warned Vala to which Patel, assured the Speaker that he will produce the source.
Going one step ahead, Congress MLA and party chief whip Balwantsinh Rajput claimed in his press release that 7,000 farmers ended their lives in last five years in Gujarat.
"Due to drought like situation in Gujarat, Kharif crop sowing has dropped almost 80 percent in the state, as the government failed to bring Narmada water to farmers. I demand that government must finish all the pending work related to canal network and other small irrigation projects to stop the suicides by farmers," said Rajput in the release today.
However, Agriculture Minister Babu Bokhiria defended the state government on the issue of farmer suicides.
"Congress MLAs should ask the Congress-led Maharashtra government about large number of farmers committing suicides in Vidarbha region. This is not the case here, as we protect them with agriculture insurance scheme for crop failure," claimed Bokhiria.
The Minister also boasted about agriculture growth of Gujarat.
"Against the national agriculture growth of 4 percent, we have registered 10.68 percent growth in that sector. Revenue from agriculture was Rs 14,753 crore in 2000-01, which jumped to Rs 1.03 lakh crore in 2011-12," claimed the Minister.
"Thanks to the guidance given by our PM Narendra Modi, sowing was done in 140 hectares in 2011-12, which was only 108 hectares in 2001," said Bokhiria in his speech while seeking approval for budgetory allocations made to his ministry.