1,500 farmers commit mass suicide in India
Published 15/04/2009 | 09:33
Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.
The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.
"The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago," Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine
"Most of the farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well."
Mr Sahu lives in a district that recorded 206 farmer suicides last year. Police records for the district add that many deaths occur due to debt and economic distress.
In another village nearby, Beturam Sahu, who owned two acres of land was among those who committed suicide. His crop is yet to be harvested, but his son Lakhnu left to take up a job as a manual labourer.
His family must repay a debt of £400 and the crop this year is poor.
"The crop is so bad this year that we will not even be able to save any seeds," said Lakhnu's friend Santosh. "There were no rains at all."
"That's why Lakhnu left even before harvesting the crop. There is nothing left to harvest in his land this time. He is worried how he will repay these loans."
Bharatendu Prakash, from the Organic Farming Association of India, told the Press Association: "Farmers' suicides are increasing due to a vicious circle created by money lenders. They lure farmers to take money but when the crops fail, they are left with no option other than death."
Mr Prakash added that the government ought to take up the cause of the poor farmers just as they fight for a strong economy.
"Development should be for all. The government blames us for being against development. Forest area is depleting and dams are constructed without proper planning.
All this contributes to dipping water levels. Farmers should be taken into consideration when planning policies," he said.