Burdened With Debt, Maharashtra Farmer Builds A Pyre & Sets Himself Alight
Unable to pay debt, a 65-year-old farmer in Maharashtra’s Nanded district committed suicide on November 9 allegedly by building his own pyre.
Potanna Ramalu Bolpilwad was frustrated that he could not repay the loans that he took from cooperative banks, due to a crop failure, reported NDTV. The farmer allegedly also filled an online form for a waiver under the state government’s scheme, but his name did not appear in the list, which made him take the extreme step, said police.
Bolpilwad went to his farm on Friday near Turati village near Umri area, set up a pyre of hay and then lit himself in that fire. His son did not suspect anything that day. The day later, when he did not return home, they found his remains in the field. An accidental death case has been registered at the Umri police station.
In July 2018, a young farmer committed suicide in Maharashtra in a similar way after failing to repay a loan of Rs 70,000.
According to the statistics given by the Centre, a total of 12,602 persons involved in the farming sector — 8,007 farmers-cultivators and 4,595 agricultural labourers – committed suicide during 2015, accounting for 9.4% of total suicide victims (133,623) in the country. Maharashtra, with 4,291 suicides, tops the list, followed by Karnataka – 1,569, Telangana – 1,400, Madhya Pradesh – 1,290, Chhattisgarh – 954, Andhra Pradesh – 916 and Tamil Nadu – 606. Together, 87.5% of the total farmer’s suicide are accounted in these seven states. The primary reason for half of the suicides in the country is ‘debt burden’. In 2016, 11,458 farmer suicides were recorded in India.
Another threatens suicide
Another farmer attempted suicide by drinking pesticide in a gathering of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in Pransli village of Gir Somnath district. Gir Somnath Superintendent of Police Rahul Tripathi said Mashribhai Dodiya was upset with local authorities as they failed to remove an encroachment on panchayat land which was in front of his farm.
“Someone has illegally captured a panchayat plot outside the agricultural land belonging to the farmer, making it hard for him to enter his own land. Orders had already been issued by the collector to remove the encroachment but local authorities have not acted upon it,” the SP added, reported The Indian Express.
Dodiya consumed the poison as soon as the CM started addressing the gathering and was immediately escorted by the local police to the nearest hospital. He said that getting inside his own farm became difficult because of the encroachment.
“Some land mafia closed the road leading to my farm by encroaching upon a land. I had approached the chief minister, who had ordered that the encroachment be removed, but nothing has happened so far,” Dodiya said.
“I have made repeated appeals to the village Panchayat officials and the taluka development officer (TDO) but in vain. Fed up of running around, I decided to end my life,” he told reporters at the hospital.
The Logical Indian take
What are the main issues faced by a farmer? High cost of labour, agriculture equipment, seeds, chemicals, water crisis, interstate water disputes, lack of awareness, lack of direct integration with the market and climate change. While loan waiver is only one part of the solution, it is high time both the government and private sectors come up with a multi-pronged solution that addresses all of these issues and finds a sustainable solution for our farming community – the backbone of our nation.