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Debt-ridden farmer sets himself afire


Raksha Shetty,CNN-IBN
Apr 12, 2008 at 10:37am IST

Mumbai: A debt-ridden farmer in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra on Friday immolated himself by leaping into a pile of burning hay.

Baban Jeughale was unable to repay a loan of Rs 1.75 lakh rupees, which he had taken to cultivate his 10 hectares of land.

“He committed suicide because he was worried about repaying his loan,” Baban's brother Tulsiram Jeughale said.

Only farmers with five or less hectares of land come under the purview of government’s much-touted 65,000 crore-rupee farm waiver.

But with cases like Jeughale's on the rise, questions on who exactly is eligible for the waiver and demands for a more inclusive approach are getting louder.

“Till the Centre doesn't give the funds to the bank they will not waive off the loans, so the impression amongst farmers is that such measures are just empty promises,” Shiv Sena MLA Gulabrao Gavande said.

The Prime Minister's 3,750 crore-rupee relief package and the Union Budget's farm waiver, the largest in the country, has done nothing to stem the suicides.

This year alone, the Vidarbha region has seen over 250 farmer suicides, bringing the total toll in this region alone to over 1500 since 2005. The numbers for the rest of the state are much higher.

At least nine Vidarbha farmers have ended their lives in this region over the last week alone.

Experts blame drought, a fall in crop prices and rising input costs for the suicides. They add the loan waiver is of little help to farmers as less than half of the marginal and small farmers, owning up to two hectares, are expected to benefit.

In Vidarbha, of the 63 families, only 13 qualify for the government's loan waiver.

The rest have more than five acres of land and debt ranging from Rs 15,000 to 20,000.

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