Second farmer suicide in Uttarakhand; CM refuses loan waiver

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Dehradun: 4 Even as Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat categorically ruled out farm loan waiver, yet another farmer committed suicide, by hanging himself from a tree, after receiving notices from banks for the recovery of Rs 3.13 lakhs in Khatima in Udhamsingh Nagar district of this small hill state.

Incidentally this is the second suicide of a farmer, the first being that by a farmer in Pithoragarh region on June 16, who owed Rs 1.25 lakhs to a bank and cooperative society. Ironically the second suicide has taken place close on the heels of the Trivendra Singh government doing a lot of back slapping on completing 100 days in office.

According to reports, the body of Ram Autar, a marginal farmer who owed money to the bank was found hanging from a tree in his agricultural field in Kanchanpuri Jamaur locality of Haldi Pachpeda village. Villagers claimed that the deceased had gone into depression after receiving notices from the two banks that he owed money to, as he was not in a position to make the repayments.

Ram Autar who owns about 2.5 acres of land had sought some time from the two banks to sell a portion of his land do that he could repay the loans, but had allegedly been denied the time forcing him to take the decision of ending his life. He is survived by his wife, a son and seven daughters, only one of whom is married.

Khatima police claimed that a suicide note had been found, in which the deceased had mentioned that he was taking his life as he was unable to pay the loans taken from the banks and requested them not to harass his family members, as it was his decision to end his life. A magisterial enquiry has been ordered by the state government.

Meanwhile chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat made it clear that the state government was not in a position to waive off the loan of the farmers which was to the tune of Rs 12,000 crores. “If the government decides to waive off the loans of the farmers all developmental works in the state will come to a standstill”, he added.

Although he hastened to add that his government has due concern for the farmers and will look after their demands, but loan wavers could only be done of the state’s coffers are full, which sadly is not the position. “All efforts will be made for the value addition of farmer’s produce and loans will be made available to the small and marginal famers at two per cent interest”, he claimed.

Asserting that in no other state loan was being made available to farmers at such low rate of interest, the chief minister said that the government was making a transparent the policy of providing compensation to the farmers in case of crop losses.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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