Debt drives three more Vidarbha farmers to suicide

Driven to desperation in the face of rising poverty and falling cotton prices, three more debt-ridden farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region have ended their lives, an activist said on Friday.

Gajanan Thorat of Garmmahsal in Washim district, Kamalabai Chavan of Wadner and Gajanan Ghotekar of Kothoda in Yavatmal district took their lives between Thursday and Friday, said Kishor Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.

The farmers took their lives because of a sudden fall in cotton prices due to export restrictions and because they had not received any financial relief from the government, Tiwari said.

One of the farmers blamed the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government in the state, he said.

Ghotekar wrote in his suicide note: "Don't vote for the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party... They will destroy this country."

According to Tiwari, the Maharashtra government last December had declared a relief package of Rs.2,000 crore for the cotton farmers. "But till date, not a single paisa has been paid to the distressed farmers who continue to reel under debts."

The farmers were then hit by stringent exports conditions which led to a fall in prices of raw cotton from Rs.4,200 to Rs.3,400 per quintal, he said.

Tiwari said that when India produced 33-million bales of cotton and only 20 million bales were used domestically, "there is no reason to impose export restrictions".

Suicides have been frequent in the region with as many as 918 Vidarbha farmers ending their lives in 2011 because of the agrarian crisis.

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