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Aligarh: Suicide a day after farm loan write-off

A debt-ridden farmer drank pesticide and died in his field after seeing his crop in ruins. Pradeep Saxena reports.
Hindustan Times | By Pradeep Saxena, Aligarh
UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2008 12:59 AM IST

A debt-ridden farmer drank pesticide and died in his field after seeing his crop in ruins, a day following the budget announcement of a Rs 60,000-crore waiver for peasants who cannot repay bank loans.

Laxman Singh from the village of Gonda, Aligarh, would, however, not have benefitted as he had taken a loan from a money lender. He had sown for a potato crop on his 15 bighas, but intense cold and fog — known as pala — killed it.

Laxman had spent a substantial amount for seeds and pesticides and had taken a fresh loan at a high rate of interest from the money lender. The loss of the potato crop had caused a loss of about Rs 1 lakh to Laxman.

He went to his field on Saturday morning and was upset at the sight of the destroyed crop. He consumed the pesticide and died in the field itself. Across Aligarh, the cold wave has destroyed potato, tomato and peas, sowed in 4,260 hectares. The loss is estimated to be around Rs 10 crore, according to a survey by the agriculture department. The farmers’ losses ranged from 50 to 70 per cent.

The farmers’ woes were aggravated because of non-availability of power because of which they could not water their crops, essential during a cold wave. The largescale damage to the potato crop has brought farmers out into the streets. They are demanding compensation for the damage.

Sources said, Aligarh is facing a power shortage for three months now. The rural areas get power for hardly 2-3 hours a day. According to agriculture department sources, potato was sown across 84,000 hectares, tomato 150 hectares and peas on 580 hectares. The survey showed the crops have totally been destroyed in 40 to 50 per cent sown areas.

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