Tuesday, September 4, 2007

PM fund brings no relief in Vidarbha, suicides continue

PM fund brings no relief in Vidarbha, suicides continue

Praveen manohar & Rahul Paharkar
NO USE: The godowns in Vidarbha now have food grain and pesticides past the expiry date.

New Delhi: It has been a year since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced his 3,750 crore package for farmers in Vidarbha. But it seems like the relief fund has failed to stem farmer suicides.

When a local tehsildar raided a godown in Buldhana, all he found inside were tons of food grain and pesticides, meant to help the poor farmers in Maharashtra get out of debt. But all of them were useless as they were past the expiry date.

The same story repeated in another raid in Amravati where pesticides and foodgrains that could have prevented more farmers from taking their lives and now incapable of ever being used, were found.

Agricultural Officer, Jalgaon Jamod, District Buldana, KN Mishra says he isn't to blame. He claims the goods had expired even before they got there.

"All the grains that we found had crossed the expiry date but even then we were sent to distribute this material amongst the farmers because we got the order from the higher administration," says Mishra.

Authorities meanwhile, promise that action will be taken.

"We have asked the district officer concerned to look into the matter," says Additional Commissioner, Amravati, Lokesh Chandra.

Over 600 farmers are estimated to have taken their lives just this year in Vidarbha, and over 1,300 since the Prime Minister visited the district last July.

For the debt-ridden farmers of Maharashtra, the stacked godowns are only reminders of the apathy of a government that seems to have long stopped caring.

"The government stocks the goods. We don't get anything," says a farmer.

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