Black Diwali: Six farmers commit suicide in Vidarbha

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published Published on Oct 25, 2014   modified Modified on Oct 25, 2014

It's been a black Diwali for Vidarbha where six farmers - four from Yavtamal and one each from Akola and Amravati - have committed suicide in the last 24 hours, casting a dark cloud over what should have been a time for rejoicing after the kharif crop.

The farmers who ended their lives are Rajendra Chahand of Kelzara village, Dutta Chede of Umari (Pathar), Nagraj Mahadolhe of Parva, Arun Kurnule of Gangapur from Yavatmal district, Kisan Sanap of Chincholi in Akola, and Manoj Futane of Shendurjana-Ghat in Amravati.

The erratic monsoon led to farmers having to spend thrice for sowing, fertilisers and pesticides. Damp conditions increased pest attacks and fungal infestation on as much as 50% of the cotton, soya and paddy crop, leading to massive losses. This aggravated the agrarian crisis, sweeping the region since 2001, which has seen 11,029 farmer suicides to date. These six have taken the toll to 906 in 2014 alone.

When asked to comment, Amravati deputy divisional commissioner Ravindra Thakare, under who the area falls, admitted there have been suicides, but said, "Respective collectors have been asked to look into the cause.

There could've been crop losses due to erratic rains, but the administration does not think the situation is that bad."

That should bring little relief to the farmers who told dna over phone that the ground reality was bleak. "We got a yield of only 30kg per acre, which is lesser than what we had sown," Surendra Chede, cousin of one of the deceased farmers, said.

"My brother was already in debt because of an earlier loan. Then, he borrowed from the local moneylenders when the first and second sowings got destroyed. When the crop failed, he didn't know how to face the moneylenders' men."

Many like activist Kishore Tiwari of the farm rights advocacy group wonder why the government has forgotten farmers when they voted is such large numbers for the BJP in both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

"Leader after leader made tall promises of addressing mounting debt, loss-making market prices of cotton and soyabean and compensation for crop failure, but in actuality, farmers have to face a funeral Diwali. If prime minister Modi can go to Kashmir to address the plight of the flood-affected, surely he can intervene at a policy level to help farmers," said Tiwari.

Recalling campaign speeches of Narendra Modi, where he spoke of introducing renowned farm scientist MS Swaminathan's formula for fixing MSP, providing for cost plus 50% remuneration to farmers, Tiwari said he hoped the PM will actively pursue this to help farmers.

DNA, 24 October, 2014,

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