Maharashtra debt-ridden farmers threaten suicide over irregular power supply

Palshi village (Maharashtra), Jan 20 (ANI): Hundreds of farmers in Maharashtra’s Amravati District on Friday threatened to commit suicide en-masse over the State Government’s failure to redress the problem of irregular power supply.  Farmers of Amravati District’s Palshi village climbed atop a 150-feet high water tank to protest against irregular electricity supply.
“We demand that we be provided uninterrupted electricity supply for 12 hours every day, and at a proper voltage.
Currently we get electricity for just four to five hours everyday, at low voltage levels,” said Rajendra Marade, Deputy Chief of the Palshi Village Council.
They descended after a few hours, but only after receiving assurances from power supply officials that the matter will be looked at an urgent basis.
“We have been assured by the power distribution company officials that they will solve our problems in seven days,” said Marade.
The suicide threat was no gimmick, said Marade, adding that the step was taken as a last resort by the farmers who have nothing to harvest for want of enough electricity for irrigation.
The region has experienced three consecutive droughts and scores of farmers have committed suicide in the past year following crop failure and growing indebtedness.
India has officially admitted to the death of about 3,600 farmers over the last five years, in most of the cases huge debts being the cause of taking the extreme step.
Suicides in Maharashtra, especially in the Vidarbha region, crossed the 900 mark in 2006, despite highly publicised efforts by New Delhi to ease the financial burden of the farmers through Central and State Government grants. (ANI)

DC hears woes of ryots families


Saturday January 20 2007 12:36 IST

SHIMOGA: Distressed widows, sons and daughters who were orphaned by the death of their farmer husbands or fathers gathered at the DC office to seek help from the government.
Due to the heavy loans the head of their family had committed suicide. But the major question who will solve their problem? A meeting was called at the DC’s office on Friday to discuss their problems.
The meeting aimed to identify cases of farmer suicides in Shimoga division and to disburse compensation under the special package announced by the Central Government. The poor condition of the families of the dead farmers was the main issue of the meeting.
Members of 65 agriculture families residing in the villages of Shimoga, Bhadravati and Tirtahalli taluks were present. They briefed the DC on the circumstances which forced the farmers to commit suicide.
Expressing grief over losing her mother Narasamma, Mamata said, ‘‘I am living like an orphan. My mother used to cultivate on our three acres of land in Nidige. She had taken Rs 2 lakh loan for the purpose. She failed to repay the loan due to crop loss and later committed suicide’’.
Vishalakshamma, Shantabai, Gangamma, Dhanalakshmi and others too requested to provide them compensation, immediately. They also demanded that the government should appoint their children to different government posts as per their educational qualification. Out of the 65 farmer families, only 10 received compensation. Farmers had committed suicides between 2003 and 2006. Members of such families used the meeting as a proper platform to convey their miseries.
Assistant Commissioner Vijaykumar, HQA to DC M Omkaramurthy, Zilla Panchayat deputy secretary Hemoji Naik, Registrar for Co-operative Societies Eshwaraswamy, Agriculture Department joint director Manjappa, Horticulture Department assistant director Shakeel Ahmed were present.

Adopt bottom up approach to revive agriculture: Experts

Financial Express, January 19 2007

NEW DELHI, JAN 18: Farmers and experts have told the Knowledge Commission that top-down approach in planning has damaged Indian agriculture. It is time to initiate the process of bottom-up approach and recognise the knowledge generated by generation of farmers over centuries as the tool for resolving the present crisis.
Knowledge Commission was set up Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh in October 2005 under the chairmanship of the telecom czar, Sam Pitroda to suggest generation, dissemination and use of knowledge in all sectors of the economy.

The commission recently met exclusively for agriculture and the meeting was presided over by the panel’s vice chairman Pushp M Bhargava and co-ordinated by Jayati Ghosh.

A farmer leader, Krishan Bir Chaudhary of Bharat Krishak Samaj who participated in the discussion said, “The present crisis in Indian agriculture is due to imposition of the model of capital-intensive, mechanised and chemical agriculture on small farms. Productivity through chemical agriculture has reached a plateau and factor productivity has started declining. Farmers have incurred heavy losses on account of failure of Bt cotton in different parts of the country.”

Another farmer leader, Vijay Jawandhia also questioned the relevance of transgenic crops in the country. Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign questioned the flow of extension services from universities to farmers. It is time to train rural youth in extension services and this would also generate rural employment.

Devinder Sharma of Forum for Food Security & Biotechnology questioned the lack of accountability among scientists and extension staff.

GV Ramanjaneyulu of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture suggested non-chemical pesticidal management (NPM) practices and organic farming and system of rice intensification (SRI) practices as solutions to the problem.

RB Singh of the National Commission for Farmers (NCF) suggested speedy implementation of NCF recommendations.

India: Bumper cotton yield fails to resolve agrarian crisis

January 18, 2007…

Bumper cotton yield in the 2006-2007 season failed to resolve agrarian crisis that farmers in Maharashtra are facing.

Even after bumper cotton yield, Government officials declared special relief packages to curb farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha.

While Maharashtra cotton marketing federation estimated yield of around 27.5 million quintals, Cotton Advisory Board revised its estimates to 25 million quintals now.

According to estimate, about 15 million quintals of cotton have been traded by private traders, Cotton Corporation of India and the state federation till mid-January.

During this season, cotton productivity increased from three quintals per acre to six on an average. Even the cost of production also increased and farmers have to invest between Rs8,000 and Rs10,000 which include cost of pesticides and fertilisers and labour charges.

Although cost of production has increased, private buyers are offering farmers an average price between Rs1,800 to Rs2,000 per quintal.

CPM cadres raid Nandigram

8 dead; TMC, Cong call for bandh today
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, January 7
A group of CPM cadres, armed with automatic rifles and other weapons and wearing police uniforms, raided Nandigram village last night and gunned down at least six farmers in accordance to the party’s suddenly adopted policy of applying force against the Krishi Bachaoo Committee, opposing the land transfer to Indonesia’s Salim group.

In the clashes that followed between the two groups, two CPM workers were also killed. Over 12 were severely injured either by gunshots or blasts and they had been admitted to different hospitals in Midnapore town and Kharagpur, where the condition of seven was stated to be critical.

The villagers killed included Biswajit Maiti, Bhudeb Mondal, Sk. Salim, Bharat Mondal, Sankar Samanta and Bishnu Maiti.

According to official reports, the CPM workers encircled Nandigram village around midnight and attacked the farmers assembled in the Garchakraberia, Sonachura and Tekhali bazaar areas. The attacks were retaliated and soon followed an armed clash between the two groups.

Oddly enough, there was no police force posted around the place at the time of the incident as it had been withdrawn earlier following the decision of the all-party meeting in the morning.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC), Congress, SUCI and several other parties have givev a call for Bangla bandh tomorrow demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the imposition of President’s rule in the state.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhattacharjee, who was busy today negotiating with a Dubai-based industrialist, Sheikh Suleman, for an investment proposal at Kulpi in the Sunderbans where some 640 acres would be needed for the project, regretted the incident at Nandigram but reiterated that the industrial expansion programme would continue.

The incident was an outcome of a provocation call to the party cadres by Mr Benoy Konar, senior central committee member, who is also a prominent leader of the party’s Kishan Front, for confronting the unwilling farmers and their supporters with force for ensuring an easy transferring of 10,000 acres there to Salim industries.

He said their policy would now be “gun for gun and lathis for lathis”, alleging that some Naxalites and the branded criminals had been behind the farmers’ agitations who needed to be firmly tackled. Mr Konar had asked the Left front partners like the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc either to support the government or quit.

Leaders of the three major front partners, namely the CPI, RSP and the FB demanded that the government should immediately stop “land grabbing policy” and hold all-party talks and adopt a decision on the future land acquiring for industries.

Ms Mamata Banerjee, who has been recuperating at a nursing home, and Mr Pradip Bhattacharyya, working WBPCC president, squarely blamed the chief minister for acting as an agent of the capitalists and held him responsible for the innocent killing in the Nandigram village.