ibnlive » India

May 20, 2007 at 01:35pm IST

Compensation scares farmers

Yavatmal (Vidarbha): Old farmers in Vidarbha affected by the agricultural crisis now have another cause for concern, linked to the government's compensation package for suicides.

Gulabji Rao, 74, and hasn't been able to sleep for many nights now. He lives in rural Vidarbha, where the agricultural crisis has spawned a morbid fear among the elderly. The fear of being murdered by their family for the compensation package the death will bring.

Gulabji Rao says, “We don't work anymore. Our children are likely to poison us for Rs 1 lakh compensation.”

Over 3,000 farmers have taken their lives in Vidarbha in the last five years, 300 of them just this year - figures that have prompted the state government to announce Rs 1 lakh compensation package for every farmer suicide. It's the kind of incentive that could drive families to do the unthinkable.

“My parents mean more to me than God, but without money nobody can do anything,” says a farmer.

Things have reached such a head that the government has started counseling programs for villagers.

Yavatmal Resident Collector Shivanand Mishra says, “There is counseling at the village level in traditional way prabachan kirtan and all measures are taken from the view of the farmer.”

But agricultural experts say it's the government itself that is to blame.

Social Activist Kishore Tewari says, “I blame the government to bring such fears and propagating such fears will lead to another disaster.”

Seemingly no government measures are working for the cotton farmers. Monetary compensation that comes after every farmer suicide is a big temptation for farmers to think evil about their aged parents.