Vidarbha erupts in protest, dubs it as peanut package
A day after four farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha, farmers of the state’s eastern region on Thursday blocked roads on two highways to press their demand of better support prices for cotton, soya and paddy.
The four suicides take the toll of farmer suicides in the state to 722 in 2011 alone.
Ramdas Kamble, a 50-year-old farmer of Goul Village in Vardha district, was one of the four farmers who ended their lives on Wednesday.
He left his home early morning saying he was going to feed his cattle. His body was found in the village well.
In 2009, Kamble took a loan of Rs1.5 lakh from a cooperative bank by mortgaging his five-and-a-half acre of agricultural land. The same year, he also borrowed Rs70,000 on interest from a local money lender for his daughter’s marriage.
As farming was the only source of income for Kamble and his family, he had to again borrow Rs40,000 from the local money lender for sowing cotton and soya crop. But Kamble financial worries worsened after one of his two bullocks died and the soya crop got spoiled due to heavy rains. Soya didn’t yield any profit and cotton is not yet not sold as there were no profitable rates.
On Wednesday, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan announced a bailout package of Rs2,000 crore to the farmers of cotton, soya, and paddy in the Vidarbha region.
But Das’ family says it won’t be of any help. The farmers described the package as “a pittance”.
“The farmers might settle for something that is close to their losses. But a mere Rs2,000 crore package is not even worth peanuts,” said Kishor Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, an activist group working for cotton farmers’ rights in Vidarbha.
Around 50 residents of Ralegaon, a small village in Yavatmal district, shaved off their heads, saying that they were undertaking the last rites of the government that is “dead”. Several spots on the National Highway 6 and 7 saw agitating farmers demanding Rs6,000 as the minimum support price for raw cotton as against the market price of Rs4,000 per quintal. They also condemned the government for announcing a bailout package, which, they said, makes a mockery of the farmers’ plight.