Lucknow: A 55-year-old farmer, who was running from pillar to post to procure fertiliser, died of a heart attack in a queue in front of a fertiliser shop on Friday in Lalitpur district. He was reportedly waiting for his turn since the past two days.
The deceased Bhogi Pal, a native of Nayagaon village in Birdha block of Lalitpur district, had gone to the district headquarter on Thursday to buy fertiliser. He went to a shop in Jugpura area, where his health started deteriorating, and he collapsedwhile standing in the queue, said eyewitnesses. He was taken to the district hospital with the help of some locals, where he was declared brought dead.
The district administration has recommended a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the deceased from the Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister’s relief fund.
“Bhogilal Pal of Nayagaon was standing in queue outside a fertiliser shop since the past few days waiting for his turn. His health deteriorated, and he collapsed. His post-mortem report revealed that he died due to cardiac arrest. His body has been handed over to family members,” Superintendent of Police (SP), Nikhil Pathak told NewsClick, adding that a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to his kin has been recommended under the welfare scheme.
When asked if there was shortage of fertiliser in the district, the SP said: “There is no such shortage of seeds in the Lalitpur division. The demands of diammonium phosphate (DAP) and urea increased all of a sudden due to rainfall last week. However, a meeting was held with various departmental officers and a strategy was made for the sale of fertilisers, along with deployment of employees in all cooperative and private shops. The responsibility was entrusted to top officers for monitoring the distribution.”
According to Pathak, sector magistrates were appointed to keep a close watch in all three division districts -- Jhansi, Jalaun and Lalitpur. He has also called for sealing of district borders in order to stop inter-district selling of manure.
Meanwhile, the District Magistrate (DM) Unnavi Dinesh Kumar said heavy rainfall that lashed the district three-four days ago had increased the demand for manure. Due to rains, the winter crop sowing season, which was supposed to be completed in a month, will now have to be completed within 10 days. “As a result, farmers are getting desperate and turning up at fertiliser shops in large numbers,” he added.
However, contrary to the SP’s statement, the victim’s son, Kripal, said Lalitpur had been witnessing a massive surge in demand for fertiliser over the last one week. He blamed his father’s death on on the “apathy and negligence” of the district administration.
“My father has been waiting for the fertiliser since the past three days. He was running from pillar to post. He had slept outside Rajput Khaad Bhandar in Jugpura area on Thursday night, where he had been in queue for two consecutive days. He slept under a tin shed in front of the shop so that his turn comes early as the shop opens the next day. On Friday, he was waiting for his turn but fell unconscious and was taken to a hospital with the help of farmers, where he was declared brought dead,” Kirpal, the deceased farmer's son, told NewsClick.
As per Kripal, his father had two acres of land for which he had been trying to get fertiliser. He had to repeatedly stand in queues over three days at several shops due to short supply. “If the district administration claims there is no such shortage, then why are there huge queues of farmers outside fertiliser shops? One can visit any shop and investigate how shopkeepers are doing black-marketing of manure,” he further alleged.
In another case, a farmer tried to die by suicide due to the non-availability of fertiliser in the Rondha village of Lalitpur district. Farmers claim they are not getting fertiliser at Rondha Cooperative Society and disturbed by this, Shyamlal (50) tried to die by suicide by hanging himself. But his fellow farmers saved him.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Lakhan Pal has demanded compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the family. He warned the administration that if higher compensation was not paid to the deceased family members in a week, his union would launch a demonstration against the administration.
Farmers in the Bundelkhand region have been facing an acute fertiliser crisis amid the peak harvesting season. Several other parts of the state are also facing a crunch. The Terai belt has been witnessing daily protests by farmers.
With patience running out after the ongoing shortage of fertilisers, a group of farmers in Lalitpur-Madawara district staged a road blockade in front of fertiliser shops on Lalitpur Road Madavara on Wednesday.
Accusing the administration for not keeping a check on “black marketing”, a BKU leader said: “The official rate of urea and DAP per bag is Rs 1,200 but farmers are paying somewhere between Rs 1,300-1,500 per bag because of acute shortage. The administration is not paying heed towards this issue.”
Some state officials and agriculture experts believe the primary reasons for the fertiliser crisis are changes in crop pattern, black marketing and farmers defaulting on loan repayments. Farmers are eligible to get fertiliser from the government at subsidised rates only if they have repaid loans.
Rajeev Latiyan, a farmer leader in Meerut, said there was shortage of fertiliser in Western Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand region. Farmers are not getting Diammonium Phosphate or DAP. The issue of shortage of fertilisers was also raised in the region-wise meeting of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs and MPs recently, but no concrete step has been taken.