* Unable to repay the loan he had taken from the bank to buy seeds and fertilizers and the interest growing each year, Pratap Singh, 55, a farmer in Matondh village of Banda district in Uttar Pradesh went to his field one morning in January this year and committed suicide by consuming poison.
* Neck deep in debt Ramesh Tiwari and Kamta Kori, two farmers in Bhandra village in Mahoba district committed suicide in August 2005.
* Worried as to how to get his four daughters married after his crops failed last year because of scant
rainfall and a mounting debt of Rs 80,000, Kishori Lal Sahu, a farmer in Pandui village in Banda committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in his field in July 2005.
It’s a disturbing trend that is picking up fast in the villages of Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh and farmers say that if urgent steps are not taken by the administration these UP villages will see a repeat of the Vidharba tragedy where farmers suicide has become a regular affair.
It is a vicious cycle in the Bundelkhand region especially in areas like Lalitpur, Mahoba, and villages around Banda.”Scant rainfall and acute scarcity of water in the entire region has drastically reduced crop yield in the last three years. With hardly any money left, farmers opened kishan credit cards in banks and took loans to buy seeds, fertilizers and tractors to continue farming.
"No rains meant there was no crop yield reducing the farmers to penury and neck deep in debt. With no help coming, many farmers decided to take the drastic step of committing suicide,” said Harisharan Singh, a teacher in junior high school, Semra village in Banda.
"My husband had taken a taken a loan some years ago. But he could not repay the money. Now the interest has grown to Rs 80,000. I have four grown up daughters. They can't go to the field. I have leased my land to some villagers but hardly get any return because of poor crop yield. From where do I get the money. My husband was left with no alternative but to hang
himself," said Shobha Devi whose husband Kishori Lal Sahu committed suicide in July last year in Pandui village of Banda.
Four farmers have committed suicide in the last one year in the adjoining villages of Pandui. In January 10, Pratap Singh, another farmer committed suicide after consuming poison in Matondh village. Singh owned four bigha land where he used to grow chana and alsi.
"He had taken a credit of Rs 45,000 last year. But could not repay a single paisa as he did not make any money. The police tried to hush up the case saying he was a drunkard and gambler. We do not have any money for our meals. From where will my father get money to drink and gamble," said Balbir Singh, his son.
The onus of repaying the loan has now fallen on Balbir’s shoulder who has taken another loan of Rs 35,000 from the Allahabad bank to buy two buffaloes. "So far I have only been able to repay Rs 3000," he said.
It is a similar story everywhere. Failing to repay loans many farmers sold their land and became labourers. Tanti, a 55-year-old farmer from Ghandua village in Mahoba has a 30 bigha land and had taken a loan of Rs 40,000. “I hardly have anything to repay. There are 12 members in my family. I have to feed them. What do I do if I don’t sell my land,” he said.
The tragedy has failed to move the city administration so far. Sanyukta Samaddar, district magistrate, Banda said, “There is no denying the fact that farmers suffer from poverty because of poor crop yield. Migration rate is high as lot of farmers have shifted to big towns in search of work. Farmers have taken loans and cannot repay them. But the administration cannot do much. On our part we have exepted then from paying land revenue dues in 2006-07.”
Asked about the high rate of suicide among farmers the DM said, “Suicides have not taken place because of starvation but because of other reasons. We are investigating the cases.”