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Archive for December, 2009

Inability to Repay Loan – ‘Best Farmer’ Ends Life

Posted by संदीप नारायण शेळके on December 31, 2009


Namaste Friends, I’ve came across these two very sad stories and equally very disturbing as well.

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First happened on 21 Nov 2009.  A farmer could not get a good price for his farm produce and succumbed to mounting loan repayments. Here is the story:

UP sugarcane farmer commits suicide

LUCKNOW: Distressed at not getting an adequate price for his produce, a debt-ridden sugarcane farmer allegedly committed suicide. The victim burnt his fields in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district and then jumped in the fire, police said on Saturday. Isbuddin (51), a resident of Asara village in Baghpat, about 400-km from Lucknow, took the extreme step on Friday evening. According to locals, Isbuddin was depressed for the last few days and had even stopped talking to his family members. In order to repay his loans, Isbuddin wanted to sell his produce for a minimum of Rs.270 per quintal.

Second story happened on 29 December 2009. A very very disappointing and disheartening story of “Best Farmer commiting suicide”.

Best Farmer of the Year Commits Suicide

Kasargod, Dec 29: Kanakattody Radhakrishna Shetty (60) committed suicide by consuming poison on Sunday December 27, after being unable to repay the bank loan raised by him. Shetty had been the recipient of the ‘best farmer’ award from Bellur region some years back.

Shetty, a progressive farmer, had raised loan from a bank to develop his land. Because of this year’s untimely rains, his crops were destroyed and he was unable to repay the loan. His family members said that he was going through mental agony, after receiving repeated notices from the bank to repay his loan.

Radhakrishna was the president of Vishnumurty Dhoomavati Daivasthana in Kinningar. He is survived by wife, Maina Shetty and three children.

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Just a thought came to my mind that a one time actor Vishnuvardhan dies of heart attack and all media channels make a note of it. 31st Celebration is the biggest breaking news.

But a “Best Farmer” comming suicide is no news, forget big or small.

Shame on you irresponsible and hypocrite media.

जय भारत!

Posted in Agriculture of Bharat | 5 Comments »

Living with drought!! Is this a curse of Nature or ignorance by Bharat and Rajya Sarkar

Posted by संदीप नारायण शेळके on December 8, 2009


While browsing through the India Together website I came across this report which says the tragedy of village dwellers, poor, especially farmers. The ignorance by Bharat sarkar is by and largely responsible for the sorrow condition of farmers.

******************* Excerpts from Kannan Kasturi’s Report **********************

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29 October 2009
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Large parts of the country have had poor rainfall this year, and so the word ‘drought’ is on a lot of lips this these days, but in one part of India, it seems more permanent. Bundelkhand – the region of Central India between the Yamuna and the Narmada – has lived with drought for five of the last six years, the sole exception being 2008. The region’s 13 districts figure in all the lists of “most backward” districts compiled by the central government. People here are reportedly the beneficiaries of various schemes for drought mitigation.

I am traveling through this region, accompanying a group that has decided to come here to get first hand accounts of how farmers are coping with the drought. As we travel, I learn the lay of the land, and its history. Bundelkhand includes almost the entire course of the rivers Betwa, Dhasan and Ken. These flow down from the Vindhyas to confluence with the Yamuna and cradle the towns of Jhansi, Chhatarpur and Sagar, the diamond mines of Panna and the fabulous temples of Khajuraho. The region is united by its language – Bundeli – and a largely shared history and culture of over 1000 years but is divided administratively between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Our first stop is Mamna village in Hamirpur district of Uttar Pradesh, a settlement of about 10,000 people. We begin talking to a couple of villagers and soon a crowd gathers around us. With no irrigation available to them, the kharif crops are a total loss, say the villagers. They are struggling even for drinking water, sometimes having to transport it from a neighboring village. Harish Kumar has had a job card (guaranteeing him a job under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) for 2 years at least. He was given some work for 1.5 months, and shows an injury sustained while working; however, he has not been paid. The date of registration on his job card has been overwritten twice to make it unclear when the card was issued. There are no work entries in the booklet.

Small farmers in Mamna Village, Hamirpur District, UP holding their 2 year old job cards. There are no work entries in their cards.

Seeing our interest in the job cards, the villagers collect over 10 job cards without any entries in a few minutes. They are all small farmers with a few bighas of land each, and willing to take up any work – but they say none is available. They show the compensation cheques they have got from the state government after the area has been declared drought affected – most are for Rs.250, less than 3 days’ wages, for the loss of their kharif crop.

Some steps away, Durjan Chamar, a cobbler in his late sixties, sits forlornly with his tools outside his house waiting for customers. His daughters have married and left home, and having no sons he and his wife have to continue the struggle for a livelihood. He has thepatta for three bighas of land given by the government, but as there is no water, there are no crops to be had. There are few customers for his skills in this village. He has tried to obtain work under the NREGA, but without success.

Basket weaving seems to be the sole non-farming related source of income in the village. Not just old men, even able bodied young men can be seen weaving daliyas (baskets) from dried stalks. The baskets fetch Rs.10 each and an old man we talk to says he can make only 3 baskets in a day. He receives no old age pension and is too old to take up any other work.

A large number of the small and marginal farmers have left the village in search of work. They travel to the nearby UP towns to work in brick kilns and to distant Delhi to work in the construction industry or in the factories in the NCR as unskilled labor or even driving rickshaws. We are told that a bus full of migrants from Mamna and neighboring villages has fallen into the Yamuna recently.

Durjan Chamar, a cobbler, displays his job card which has no work entries. There is no demand in the village for his skills and no produce from his 3 bigha land.

On a lane leading to the center of the village, a man sits in the front room of his thatched cottage running his sewing machine. He continues to work as we sit across on a charpoy and talk. His name is Jagdish he tells us, but everyone in the village calls him Bhikari Lal, a name used by his mother to shield her only child from evil eyes.

A farmer with 2 acres, he has turned to tailoring and leased his land for a 50 per cent share of the produce. The income from the land hardly counts. He has already spent a number of years in Kandla and is back now to look after his wife and two children after his mother passed away. He could earn Rs 300 per day in Gujarat, while back in the village, he can at best earn half that amount and the payment does not come easily as the villagers do not have ready cash. He is particular about the education of his children and sends them to a private school; the quality of teaching at the government school, he says, cannot be trusted.

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We walk to a basti populated by the poor Raikwar community – people who traditionally work in water related occupations – to get a different picture. Swami Prasad has a job card that was made in January 2006. He has not got even a single day’s work till now. But it is not Swami Prasad alone. Everyone in a group that collects around us have the same story. Job cards are there, but no jobs. Only people close to the Pradhan get work, we hear. No Panchayat Inspector or Block CEO leave alone Collector has ever visited the community, according to these residents. Some of them have been out – to Delhi, Noida and Punjab – to look for jobs and come back after working a while. After Deepawali, some of them will head out again. More than half the people from this village of 10,000 have migrated outside the state seeking work.

A government school just across from where we are standing has a board displayed that declares the menu for the mid day meal each day – the menu includes rice, different dals and green and other vegetables. According to the residents, the children only get rice gruel. The open well in the colony has not been cleaned for ages and has been rendered unfit for use. It would cost just Rs.3000-4000 to clean the well and some people would have got jobs – but this is not a priority of the panchayat. The school has its own well. Residents have to wait for the school to open to lift their water.

Meghraj Singh in front of his hut. He has been denied a BPL card – so he can get no rations except Kerosene.

Adhiyara, a village in Chattarpur District has over 400 families split between the communities of Thakurs, Harijans and Adivasis. There are only 5 bore wells in the village of which 2 are private and one belongs to the school and one has been set up in the Harijan basti. The lone public bore well functions only when there is power. Sometimes, the village has no power for weeks. People are forced to go to neighboring villages for water, walking 2-3 km. In summer, if there is no electricity, women sometimes stand all night in line waiting for water.

At least 100 families have migrated to Delhi, Ludhiana, Punjab and other places, we are told. People with small children migrate with their entire family leaving behind an elderly person to look after their house and cattle. Many small farmers have given their land on lease to others for a fixed sum or a share of the crop. NREGA work is available only for 10-15 people and the Panchayat President distributes it among his friends, the residents allege.

Meghraj Singh has 7 acres of land and is one of three brothers. He is not entitled to a BPL card though he lives in a crude hut. His crop has completely failed. There are two ponds near the village with rain water that is used for watering the cows – but no irrigation is available for the fields. He says farming is unviable and that there are no alternate sources of employment.

The Adivasi hamlet of 20 families is at the far end of the village. Only a few emaciated old men are to be seen around – the younger men have apparently migrated. Their condition is pathetic – no job cards or jobs, no ration cards (BPL or APL), no pension, no compensation for crops lost. There is no government intervention here where the people are most in need. The only forest product available to them is Mahua. The only work is gathering tendu leaves for the forest contractors for which they are paid based on quantity of collection.

Nathu Singh, a farmer with 15 acres land in Adhiyara village, district Chhatarpur has only one plea – “Please tell them to solve our drinking water problem.”

Paglu tells us he owns 2 acres but they are useless to him. There is no work to be had in the village even with the bigger farmers. He has worked in cities but he doesn’t like it there and prefers to remain in his village. At one time, they used to hunt in the nearby forests but the government has taken away their firearm licenses.

On our way out of the village we meet Nathu Singh. He has 15 acres land. Lest we think he is prosperous, he quickly explains that he has a large family – 3 boys and 3 girls. One can see that he is but a shadow of his former proud self. He has only one plea – please, please tell the authorities to solve our drinking water problem.

All the villages we visit present the same story – complete crop failure for the small and marginal farmers who depended on the rains coupled with a lack of local employment opportunities. The much touted employment guarantee scheme of the government is not functional where it is most needed forcing large scale migration on the landless and even on small farmers. At close quarters, the picture of the panchayati raj is unedifying – viewed, as it is, as being all pervasively corrupt. The rains may have failed Bundelkhand but it is the governments of the two States, and at the Centre who have forsaken the people.

जय हिंद!

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Village on Sale!!! Any Buyers?

Posted by संदीप नारायण शेळके on December 7, 2009


This is reproduced from A village in Vidarbha for sale, any buyer please?

Sale!                Sale!                Sale!

“YE GAON bikna hai (This village is for sale).” Is there any buyer please? The name of the village is Dorli; district Wardha, Mumbai. The posters, urging the buyers, are visible all through the village.

The villagers are desperate to leave because they are totally sold out to the mahajans but do not want to commit suicide. They want to live by selling out the whole village and square up the loans and start a fresh lease of life, may be by begging, elsewhere. They are all cotton producers in the Vidarbha region of western India, which is now known to the world as ‘farmers’ suicide zone.

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) statistics, tabled in Parliament, the suicide graph has been on the rise in the suicide belt of Vidarbha for the last three years. In 2005-06, 712 farmers committed suicide. In 2006-07, it went up to 1414. In the first quarter of 2007-08, suicide deaths reported counted to 608.

But Vidarbha Jana Andolan Samiti claims that in the last five years, 2384 farmers have committed suicide in six districts of Vidarbha. In every four hours, one farmer is committing suicide just to come out of painful, dishonoured life. Poverty, uncertainty, and hunger have been taking lives of 48 farmers everyday in the new death valley – India.

The reason is very simple and known to the administration in depth. The cotton farmers of Vidarbha used to spend Rs 1700 to 1800 to produce one quintal of cotton and sell the same at a price of Rs 2800 to 2900 per quintal. They were having a profit of minimum of Rs 1000 per quintal. Now they are spending more – Rs 2500 per quintal but selling price has come down to Rs 1600 to 1800 per quintal. They are facing a loss of Rs 700 to 900 per quintal. The reason for this market crash is the import of cotton from USA, which has been providing subsidy of 400 crore dollars to 20,000 cotton producers. The cotton traders are selling foreign cotton to a much lower rate than the Indian counterparts and the Indian farmers are facing a distress sale.

Once honoured as Safed Sona, the cotton of the cotton city Vidarbha now seems to become the death cushion of the victims. The mahajans are continuously pressurising for meeting up their payments with interest. On the other hand, pressure is on from the government that they have to produce quality cotton and get ready for worldwide competition in producing and selling cotton. World Bank’s conditions have made their lives hell. Most unfortunate part of the whole episode is that the central government has been spending Rs 5852 crore on subsidies but is not allotting anything for cotton.

As precautionary measure, the central government has pumped in 5000 crores in the locality but all have gone into futility because the suicide rate has gone up even after the centre had arranged fund for saving the farmer families from massacre. Why? Because 36 per cent farmers of a total count of 41663 in 383 villages in Vidarbha zone were not even informed of the central fund allotted. The districts are Yavatmal, Amravati, Wardha, Akola, Buldhana and Washim. The highly distressed farmers amounting to 17. 82 lakhs were provided with short term measures without any effect because 75 per cent of them were unaware of the poor publicity campaign. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti claimed that there was immense malpractice and the failure of the relief packages prompted 300 farmers to commit suicide.

The farmers who have crossed the limit of their tolerance of the apathy of the local administration and wrong policies, have already come out with the bare truth. The truth is that the farmers who used to sow local cotton seeds, were hard-pressed to use high-yielding cotton seeds from the multi-national companies like Monsanto and Boleguard. The seeds did not grow as promised. The pressure was created by the administration. The other factor was the lack of irrigated water. Since independence, only 13 per cent of agricultural land in the country has been brought under irrigation. Vidarbha is one of the most unfortunate non-irrigated zones of independent country.

Unfortunately, this India where 48 farmers commit suicide everyday, is giving birth to two billionaires every year. India is amongst the first five countries where crorepatis rule and their total income is at per to 31 per cent of national income. This is because the policies adopted by the centre and the states are prepared in a way, which comes to benefit for those billionaires. In 2004-05, the corporate sector was given a tax relief of Rs 57,852 crores. In the same year, all subsidies were withdrawn from loan-burdened agriculture sector. When demands for subsidies were raised, the administration advised to compete with the international market because we are living in the age of globalisation. It was never considered that the Indian farmers having the age-old technology cannot compete with the farmers of developed countries having modern technology. This is more than a conspiracy to create dependence of 112 crores of Indian population upon the developed countries. This has led the farmers of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka and Haryana. The latest addition is Wayanad in Kerala where coffee growers are at the verge of death and cases of committing suicide have already started. The district is known as ‘Green Paradise’ for its dense forests and foliage. It has rich harvest of spices, pepper, cardamom, coffee and tea. Coffee adds to the economy of the area. But dearth of rain on one hand and lack of effective policies to save the market price on the other, are leading the farmers to accept deaths.

The Union finance minister, P Chidambaram, has announced a waiver of loans for the farmers amounting to Rs 60000 crores. For political reasons, this was a binding upon the UPA government. But the bare truth is that hence the banks will not agree to provide loans to the small and marginal farmers. The rich farmers who have changed their status to corporates, will be able to accumulate crores overnight.

The farmers of Vidarbha will perhaps face the crudest time. The list of murdas at the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti office will continue to be becoming bigger every day. And the media will continue to stress upon the entertainment because that sells high.

Any takers?

जय हिंद!

Posted in Agriculture of Bharat | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

18% Vidarbha farmer suicides in 2009 genuine, says Bharat Sarkar

Posted by संदीप नारायण शेळके on December 6, 2009


18% Vidarbha farmer suicides in 2009 genuine, says govt – Times Of India Pune

TNN 12 September 2009, 05:30am IST

AMRAVATI: The spate of farmer suicides is continuing in Vidarbha region. Hundreds of farmers have ended their lives this year but few have proved to be eligible to be counted as genuine cases, resulting in their kin not getting compensation or other benefits from the government. Activists claimed that the officials are merely following the orders from the chief minister’s office to keep farmer suicide numbers as low as possible. Though the situation has improved after implementation of the packages, the numbers are still worrying. In year 2009, till July 31, around 466 farmers in six suicide prone districts committed suicide. But only 86 – roughly 18.45% – were considered eligible for compensation which government offers to the next of kin. Ninety-six cases are under probe and 284 cases have been rejected by government. From 2001 to July 31 this year, 5,503 farmers committed suicide out of which 2,030 cases were found eligible for benefits of the government while 3,377 were non eligible and 96 are under investigation. Sources from the commissionerate stated that a compensation of Rs 1 lakh is provided to eligible beneficiaries of which Rs 30,000 paid in cash while Rs 70,000 deposited in the account of the farmer. Only those cases in which farmers committed suicide due to in indebtedness, excess follow up by a bank or moneylender for repayments and low yield are considered to be eligible for the compensation. The district collector heads a committee which comprises officials of the departments concerned and NGO representatives to review farmer suicide cases. Talathi of the village does the enquiry of the farmers on various grounds and then eligibility of the beneficiary is decided. Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, while talking to TOI, claimed that Chief Minister Ashok Chavan himself had told officials not to show more number of beneficiaries on record and officials are following the orders. Tiwari also said that the administration has put forth the flimsy reasons to reject the case. “The administration is insensitive towards the problems of the farmers,” he said. The government issued a GR regarding non-eligible beneficiaries in February this year in which it was stated that the benefits of the Antyodaya Scheme should be extended to the widows of farmers who were not considered eligible for ex-gratia. “Except Yavatmal district, this scheme is not being implemented properly,” said Tiwari.

What do you think? Where are we going?

We have price rise on one side and farmer suicide on other, who is being benefited?

जय हिंद!

Posted in Agriculture of Bharat, Farmer's Suicides, Farmers face Atrocities | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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