Monday, March 26, 2007

Debt ridden: Vidarbha farmers seek relief -NDTV REPORTS

Debt ridden: Vidarbha farmers seek relief

" We either want the government to give us justice or give us the permission to commit suicide "

- Kailash Ingole

Monday, March 26, 2007 (Nagpur)

The union government is implementing a relief package for debt ridden farmers of six of the worst affected districts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra.

But farmers of the remaining five districts continue to be subjected to the tactics of recovery agents from banks and moneylenders.

Six such farmers from a village in Nagpur District have now petitioned the High Court saying they should either be given justice or the permission to commit suicide.

Bank threats

Kailash Ingole had four acres of farmland and yet he has been forced to work as a daily wage farm labourer on other farmers' lands.

Moneylenders from the village took over Kailash's land, worth at least a lakh for a loan he had taken of a mere Rs 12,000.

A cooperative bank is now threatening to auction Kailash's home for another small loan he had taken nearly two decades back.

"On paper I was given Rs 30,000 but only Rs 25,000 was actually given to me. I paid back the full Rs 30,000, but now they want me to pay Rs 37,000 more, because of the interest," said Kailash.

Hefty interest

With crops failing every year, banks tend to prefer giving out loans for things like house repair rather than to farmers for their crop.

The interest on these loans is hefty. With the crops failing, paying back becomes impossible and soon there are threats and notices to auction the property.

"My wife was at home. I wasn't. They asked her to pay back the amount in full. They threatened to take away all our belongings and auction our house," said Kailash.

In an attempt to avoid the embarrassment and shame of the situation, six farmers from Malewada in Nagpur, including Kailash, filed a petition before the Nagpur bench of the Mumbai High Court.

They requested the court give them permission to end their lives.

"We either want the government to give us justice or give us the permission to commit suicide," he said.

These farmers also claim that, when it comes to debt recovery, these co-op banks are worse than the illegal money lenders.

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