Monday, July 10, 2006

Prime Minister's package fails to stem suicide spate

Prime Minister's package fails to stem suicide spate

MUMBAI: As many as 23 farmers have committed suicide, including five in the last 24 hours alone, since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the killing fields of Vidarbha a week ago, claimed a farmers' rights body.

Kishor Tiwari, president of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, said there was widespread disappointment within the farming community at the Rs 3,750 crore package announced by Singh.

Tiwari said an average of about four farmers had been ending their lives over the last three days, taking the toll to a 631 since June last year. On the eve of the PM's visit, Tiwari had told TOI he feared the number would go up in days to come.

He said only a complete loan waiver and a cotton procurement rate of Rs 3,000 per quintal could end the spate of suicides. The PM's package offers an interest waiver, but has not wiped the debt slate clean.

Banks are not keen to give fresh loans to cotton farmers despite the PM's announcement as they are still to receive guidelines from Nabard and RBI, Tiwari complained.

Suicides had also occurred in the paddy-growing areas of Chandrapur district. The paddy belt of eastern Vidarbha falls outside the purview of the PM's package. The relief package will cover only six districts—Yavatmal, Amravati, Akola, Washim, Buldana and Wardha.


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