Farmer suicide rate: 5 a week

Sanjeev Kumar Patro

 BHUBANESWAR: The bane of farmers’ suicides has taken Orissa in its vice-like grip with five ending their lives in every seven days. The trend has grown by over six per cent in 2008 as the State has climbed the ladder at a notoriously fast pace to rank 12th of the 28 states with most farmer deaths, the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau has revealed. The growth is over 40 per cent for the males with 245 taking the extreme step against 170 in 2007. Farmer suicides constitute a significant 5.3 per cent of the total 4,904 suicide cases in Orissa. The year 2008 has assumed significance against the backdrop of the mega loan waiver scheme offered by the Centre. Though nationally the total number of suicides by farmers has dipped, an upward trend is noticed in states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, AP, MP, Rajasthan, UP, TN and Gujarat. What is of concern is that most farmer deaths in Orissa have not been of those involved in cash crop cultivation but majorly paddy growers. The rise in suicides when seen through a recent report `Combined Finances of Union and State Governments’ brings to the fore some farreaching conclusions. All the States that have registered a rise except Chattisgarh have a very poor per capita expenditure on agriculture. And, except West Bengal all other states that recorded a fall have a very high per capita expenditure on agriculture. As per the report, the expenditure on agriculture in 2007-08 in Orissa was Rs 890 crore with per capita expenditure of Rs 224 only. The per capita spending of Orissa is only 0.8 times of the national per capita spending on agriculture. Spending on pure agriculture activities like crop husbandry, R&D and other agri-programmes for the same period stood at Rs 315 crore only. Orissa’s per capita spending is even below that of the north-eastern states. According to Farmers Commission, there is a serious lapse in the Government’s policy towards farmers in Orissa. It finds that 94 per cent operational holdings in Orissa is below four hectare and currently no improved implements are used in farming there. Only 0.5 per cent of the holdings covering only 6.35 per cent of the cultivable area have tractors, power tillers, pumps and sprayers. The Commission urged the Government to declare a mechanical package entailing provisioning of ergonomically improved bullock drawn and manual tools and introduction of mechanised power tillers, self-propelled reapers, transplanters and tractors on custom hiring basis to address the falling costs per holding. The input subsidy offered by the Orissa Government on mechanised farm inputs would not ameliorate the problem, as suicides are mostly committed by farmers owning below 4 hectares land

Farmer couple writes to president, demands mercy killing of four sons

Ani

August 28th, 2009

NEW DELHI – The farmer couple Jeetnarayan and wife of Prabhawati living in Bashi village of Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh have written to the President of India seeking permission for mercy killing of their four sons aged between 10 and 16 years.

The brothers are suffering from an affliction caused by muscular dystrophy, leaving them to lead a life in a vegetative state.

The four children, Durgesh, 16, Sarvesh, 14, Brijesh, 11, and Suresh, 10, were afflicted with the disease when they turned five.

Children cannot even stand on their feet, move their body below the neck, and have to rely on their parents’ for every daily activity.

Jeetnarayan has sold everything of financial value in his house to foot the hefty sums spent for the children’s treatment.

“Now we are very tired as we just take care of them day and night. There is no time to work even to earn our living. Then we submitted an application to the Prime Minister and also chief of the state. But there was no hearing to our plight. No one came to our door. It’s better for the entire family to die rather than live in such a miserable state,” said Jeetnarayan

“We wanted treatment to be done. But it’s not happening anywhere. We don’t have any other option, we are very poor and there is no way to go. We wanted them to be treated but that’s not happening anywhere and no treatment can be done. So it’s better that we die,” said Prabhawati.

Indian laws do no permit euthanasia or mercy killing. (ANI)

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‘Raigad votes against SEZ in referendum’

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2008/09/23/stories/2008092352471000.htm

Mumbai, Sept. 22 A majority of people in the 22 villages in Raigad district have voted against the SEZ in the referendum process which was held on Sunday, claimed Mr N.D. Patil, senior leader of Peasants and Workers Party of India, who is spearheading the agitation.

The State Government is likely to announce the result of the referendum in next 15 days.

The promoters of Maha Mumbai SEZ, which includes promoters of Reliance Industries Ltd, want to set up 10,000 hectares SEZ in the district.

SEZ is expected to attract an investment of nearly Rs 40,000 crore and generate 20 lakh jobs.

Mr Patil said that although the Maharashtra Government has undertaken the referendum process, it is not necessary that the report would be tabled any time in the near future.

“When under pressure, the State Government acts in a circular manner.

“The report could be further handed over to a committee, which will take the further circuitous route,” he said.

Mr Patil said that the people of the district do not want SEZ and no amount of compensation from the corporate houses and government will change their view about selling their land.

A senior official in the industries department said that in the eventuality of referendum going against the promoters of the SEZ, the land acquisition process for the other mega projects and SEZs in the State will suffer.

“We will not be mute spectators; we are also prepared for a court battle,” Mr Patil said.

Raigad villagers participate in referendum on Reliance project
21 Sep, 2008, 1717 hrs IST, IANS

 

PEN/MUMBAI: Thousands of villagers around Pen area in Maharashtra’s Raigad district Sunday took part in a referendum to decide the fate of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group’s proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
District Collector Vinayak Nipun and Superintendent of Police Pradeep Digavkar were present to monitor the referendum – the country’s first on an industrial project – even as a huge security blanket covered Pen, around 150 km from Mumbai, a police official told IANS.
Residents of 22 villagers who will be affected by the Reliance Group’s mega-project came out in substantial numbers to give their verdict on the SEZ.
During the referendum, a small group of people at one village opposed to the project and raised anti-Reliance and anti-government slogans.
Around 10,000 farmers from these villages are reluctant to part with 3,415 hectares of land for the project, touted to be Asia’s largest.
Through the referendum, the district administration is ascertaining their views and recording their statements, which will be forwarded to the state government.
The villagers’ sentiments shall be taken into consideration before deciding whether the proposed Rs.400-billion (Rs.40,000-crore) project can come up in that region or not.
A district official said the outcome of Sunday’s referendum may be available only by early October.
The Reliance SEZ is slated to come up over 10,000 hectares in Pen, Uran and Panvel sub-districts of Raigad. However, the group has faced stiff resistance from the people of Pen, necessitating the referendum.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena executive president Udhav Thackeray has offered to secure a better financial deal for farmers willing to sell their land for the SEZ.
He made the offer to a delegation of villagers that called on him in Mumbai two days ago and conveyed the sentiments of the local population regarding the SEZ.