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Kalawati gets Rs 3 lakh

Days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi cited her as a microcosmic representative of the agrarian crisis in Vidharba, poverty-stricken Kalawati on Thursday received a cheque of Rs three lakh from an NGO and said it would help her payoff her debts.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2008 21:16 IST

Days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi cited her as a microcosmic representative of the agrarian crisis in Vidharba, poverty-stricken Kalawati on Thursday received a cheque of Rs three lakh from an NGO and said it would help her payoff her debts.

The woman, whose debt-ridden farmer-husband committed suicide three years back, received the cheque from Sulabh International, the NGO which has adopted her family for a period of two decades, at her village in Jalka.

"I will be able to pay back all my debts now," said a relieved Kalawati after the monetary assistance was handed over to her by Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak.

The widow, who grabbed national attention after Gandhi pointed to her plight during the trust vote debate in Lok Sabha, has a cumulative debt of Rs 90,000 taken from a number of relatives and other lenders.

"While I incurred a loan total Rs 50,000 to make ends meet and marry off my daughters, my husband left Rs 40,000 as unpaid debt," she said.

Sulabh earlier announced that it will pay Rs 25,000 per month for the upbringing of her children for the next 20 years.

A mother of nine children, seven of whom are girls, has already married off five of her daughters. However, they keep returning home during pregnancies and she bears the expense for most of their deliveries.

Asked about the issues which are now on her priority list after getting the monetary help, Kalawati pointed towards her dingy one room hut currently inhabited by eight people.

"I will first repair the house and try to expand it to make it commensurate to our needs," Kalavati said adding that "besides, the education of my children is another top priority."

However, as a victim of the deadly debt-trap that has claimed many farmers' lives in drought-ravaged Vidarbha region, Kalawati has vowed to never let her children enter the farm sector.

"The farm sector and its vicious debt cycle claimed my husband's life. I do not want my children to ever engage in farming," she said.

"I want them to study well and acquire a government job someday," she added.

Propelled to limelight by Rahul Gandhi's speech in Lok Sabha, Kalawati said Indira Gandhi's grandson was a "God-send" person to her.

Sulabh's founder President Bindeshwar Pathak, who traveled to her village to hand over the cheque along with a bank officer, said the organization will also reach out to Shashikala, another woman who was reffered to by Rahul Gandhi in his now trust vote address.

"We will soon provide help also to Shashikala who resides in another village of the same district," Pathak said.