Saturday, December 30, 2006

Publication:Times Of India Nagpur;
Date:Dec 30, 2006;
Section:Times Nagpur;
Page Number:2

Farm activists call for emergency measures

Nagpur: The farmer suicide toll in Vidarbha has climbed to 105 in the current month, taking the 2006 tally to 1060, the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti has claimed on Friday. Over three million cotton growers in the state are reeling under an unprecedented agrarian crisis. Samiti president Kishore Tiwari has urged the government to come out with emergency measures to bail out distressed cotton growers of Vidarbha who have been forced to embrace death as they find surviving on poor returns from the cotton crop too tough. The state government had a year ago announced a relief package for the six worst affected districts of Yavatmal, Amravati, Akola, Washim, Buldana and Wardha. On July 1, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to the region announced a special relief package for the distressed farmers. Earlier this month, the state once again announced a cash compensation of Rs 1500 per hectare with a ceiling of two hectares for cotton growers. But all these measures have failed to bring the farmer out of the despondency. Farm activists like Tiwari argue that basic demands of a hike in procurement price and waiver of outstanding bank dues have not been granted to farmers and as a result the cultivators continue to remain under unbearable debt burden. In Yavatmal district alone, 344 farmers have committed suicide this year, the Samiti claimed. “The large number of suicides in west Vidarbha which was once the most prosperous agricultural region in the state is primarily because of the government’s wrong policies and neglect of farm sector,’’ Tiwari alleged. “To complicate matters, there is a collapse of old social and community support system in the villages which has multiplied distress levels. Sustainable farming is the need of the hour and the government should ensure food security to improve living standards of the three million farmers in the region.’’

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