PM’s package no deterrent, 7 more end life in 3 days
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's relief package worth Rs 3,750 crore for Maharashtra's suicide belt has failed to put a stop to farmers' suicide cases in the region. Seven farmers have reportedly ended their lives in this region in the past three days.
The seven are — Shrikant Kalbande from Nimbhora (Lahe) in Amravati, Vithoba Hemane from Mahalgaon in Chandrapur, Narayan Pohare from Ural in Akola, Bhotu Rathod from Rampur in Yavatmal, Vijay Junghare from Jalka in Amravati, Suraj Kanphade from Chor Mauli in Amravati and Rakhi Shivrudra Shelgenwar Shelgaon (Deshmukh) in Buldana.
With this, the total number of farmers committing suicide since June 2005 has gone up to 615, according to Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which has been compiling the data of suicides for many years now.
The activists are, meanwhile, critical of the package offered. Vijay Jawandhia, spearheading a campaign for the cotton farmers, says ''There is nothing for the non-irrigated farmer in the package. Rescheduling of loans is fine, but what about repayment? Even when the cotton price was Rs 2,500, the farmers were not able to repay the loans, so how will they repay when the price is Rs 1,700 per quintal?''
He further said, ''The Prime Minister says there are enough safeguards in the WTO to prevent the international price fluctuations from damaging our farmer's interests. So, why were those safeguards never used?''
''Sharad Pawar opposes increase in import duty on cotton. So, why is import duty on sugar not slashed? Because he is worried only for sugarcane and not cotton farmers,'' Jawandhia said.
Another fallacy of the package, according to him, is promotion of dairy business. ''Jowar is no longer being cultivated in Vidarbha, so there is no fodder. What will happen to the cattle which the government is offering to the farmers? Farmers basically need incentives to grow jowar, so that fodder problem is solved,'' he pointed out.
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