Death stalks farmers in Mahabubnagar
Strange repeat of suicides rocks new state of Telangana
14 farmers end lives in 14 days
Wife follows husband in death
(C B Rao)
Hyderabad, October 8 : The Telangana state has for over a fortnight been echoing to the hustle bustle of the Bathukamma songs as it got soaked in the floral fantasies that come with the special festivities of the occasion. But the euphoria that marked the first ever cultural fete celebrated all over the new born state under the aegis of government is missing in Mahabubnagar, one of its most backward pockets.
A cluster of villages in Achampet assembly constituency of the district plunged into gloom as death stalked the peasant community. The district witnessed a strange repeat of farmers’ suicides. As many as 14 farmers ended their lives in the past 14 days grabbing the attention of the state administration as well as the political parties.
A cotton farmer Ramavath Fakira, 53, of Mannanur village was the latest addition to the list of farmers committed suicides in the district. His fortunes have been dwindling for the past three years, thanks to the failing crops. The tribal farmer raised cotton in two acres. He had been borrowing from private lenders to meet the crop investment. Once again he did so, thanks to the severe pest attack. He was last seen at the cotton field 12 noon on Saturday.
He consumed the same pesticide after spraying it over the crop as a last ditch effort. The tribal farmer found writhing in pain in his farm. He was shifted to the local hospital and from there to the district headquarters hospital. Despite all out efforts made to save him he succumbed on Saturday night. His death has left his four children orphaned. His wife Dwali says her husband had left the family enmeshed in a web of misery.
The peasant community in Mahabubnagar is crying for attention. A majority of 14 farmers died was cotton growers. The distress calls being made by the community seem to have been evoking hardly any response.
Another cotton grower, Kottem Butchaiah, committed suicide by consuming poison in Uppununtala mandal. The death owed also to his crippled finances. Just minutes after his funeral, his wife Venkatamma died of heart attack. Suicides are unabated now
Villages such as Vangur, Turkapalli, Penumella, mangalapalli and Peddodi accounted for a majority of such deaths. Threat of heavy crop losses is looming large on the peasant community. The much awaited loan waiver aimed at their debt relief is expected in installments. The money lenders who had gained almost a strangle hold on the peasant economy are said to be going tough in their recoveries.
Almost all the political parties and peasant bodies have been voicing grave concern over the farmers’ suicides. The Congress, BJP and TDP district units have been demanding the government to reach out to the farmers in district with adequate help. They sought a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs for the families that had lost their breadwinners.
A drought like situation prevailed in Mahb00bnagar till August 15 last. So is the case with almost rest of Telangana which witnessed some 140 farmers suicides in the past four months. Less than 20 lakh hectares was covered till the end of August as against the normal sowing of 40.38 lakh hectares in the state.
The debt relief promised by the TRS government failed to get the concurrence of the reserve bank. As a result the state government is planning to go ahead with the loan waiver in installments. The delay in implementation of loan waiver aggravated the situation in Telangana villages.
Power crisis too put the peasant community in peril. Bandala Mallaiah, another farmer, committed suicide in Warangal on Tuesday as he failed to save his withering paddy crop, thanks to the erratic power supply. Farmer suicides were reported in Khammam districts also.
Mallu Ravi, PCC official spokesman, who visited some of the affected villages in Mahabubnagar district blamed the government and its wrong priorities for the farm sector crisis. Senior Congress leaders D K Aruna and Jeevan reddy also mounted attack against the TRS government.