UP: Last Week’s Excessive Rain Drives Debt-Ridden Farmer to 'Suicide' in Mahoba
Lucknow: Excessive rains and hailstorms this week have damaged winter-sown crops of millions of farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region, but Guru Prasad’s loss seems heavier than others.
Prasad’s 52-year-old father Durga reportedly killed himself on Wednesday after unseasonal rains devastated the paddy and chickpea crops the family had been counting on to repay a bank loan of Rs 80,000.
"We were expecting a good product, but excessive rain for the last one week destroyed it. My father had taken out a loan from the green card. He was not in a position to repay it, following which he was under severe depression these days. He died by suicide to escape his debt burden,” Prasad told NewsClick.
Durga, a resident of Gyodi village of Khanna police station area in Mahoba district, was very disturbed the crops destroyed by excessive rain. According to some people from his village, he was in a state of shock, especially as the bank had been pressuring him to repay the loan.
The deceased's son said the bank had deducted Rs 5,000 from his father's account last month. There was constant pressure on him to repay the loan. He was worried about this. His worries got compounded as the rains hit his crop. This devastated him and forced him to take the extreme step of hanging himself in his house.
A district officer, who visited the family, told NewsClick that the family was facing a financial crunch since the crops had failed. "Villagers told us that though he had obtained a bank loan, he could not produce good crop yield due to unfavourable weather conditions in the region," he said.
Despite tall claims made by the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government, including announcements of loan waivers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to double farmers’ income by 2022, farmer suicide continue in water-starved Bundelkhand region.
NewsClick had earlier reported that growing indebtedness among farmers in the region was a key reason for many of them the extreme step of suicide. No loan waivers were announced, and several farmersadi they were in distress and were tired of knocking on doors of insurance agents, private money lenders and government officials.
As a result, there is simmering anger among affected farmers, many of whom say they are tired of empty promises, and had given up hope.
"It’s a disturbing trend that is picking up in the villages of Bundelkhand region. If urgent steps are not taken by the administration, these UP villages will see a repeat of the Vidharba tragedy where farmer suicides had become a regular affair," Prem Singh, an agriculure expert told NewsClick.
It is a vicious cycle in the Bundelkhand region, especially in areas like Lalitpur, Mahoba, and villages around Banda. Scant rainfall and acute scarcity of water in the entire region has drastically reduced crop yield in the past few years. With hardly any money left, farmers opened kisan credit cards in banks and took loans to buy seeds, fertilisers and tractors.
"If the crop yield reduces, farmers face penury and many of them are neck deep in debt. With no help coming from government, many farmers decided to take the drastic step of suicide,” Singh added.
Sudhir Panwar, a Lucknow- based farmer activist, told NewsClick that Durga's alleged suicide pointed toward the biggest problem of ‘selective’ farm loan waiver, as conceptualised by the Adityanath government. He said very heavy rainfall had resulted in crop losses in both Central and Western Uttar Pradesh.
"The continuous death of farmers in the Bundelkhand region raises questions about the tall claims made by both the state and Central governments. Giving only a section of the farmers the benefit of waiver when the entire sector is going through an acute crisis, is a complete betrayal of the promise the Prime Minister made to the farmers of the state," Panwar, a former member of the UP Planning Commission, told NewsClick.
He said the amount of loans taken by the farmers in the state and the amount waived off by the state government does not match, which raises questions about the exact benefits that the farmers had received.
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