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403 farmers commit suicide over five years in Gujarat

Posted by Ramoo on October 12, 2007

New Delhi, October 11: As many as 403 farmers committed suicide in Gujarat in the last five years. Junagadh district topped the list with 85 suicides in the state.

The data was furnished by the Gujarat Government to an application filed under Right To Information (RTI) Act by activist Bharatsinh Jhala.

The data informed that there were 62 such cases in Rajkot, followed by 50 in Jamnagar and 48 in Mehsana.

The applicant sought details on the number of farmers suicides in the state where floods had devastated the life and property in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

As per the data, 36 farmers have ended their lives in 2007 itself, Jhala told reporters.

He said he filed the application when he found “discrepancies” in the information provided by the government and a survey conducted in various villages by him along with some NGOs.

“The survey presented a grim picture of the farmers who were reeling under the debt even as the state initially maintained that there were only 148 deaths in the entire period,” he said.

“Our study indicated that the farmers were committing suicide due to cost production exceeding the returns specially when agriculture is the sole source of income,” Jhala said.

He added that the information through RTI substantiated his fears.

The other reasons were non-availability of cheap and ready agricultural credit, lack of investment in rural social infrastructure like health, education, transportation in the context of lack of alternate sources, he stated.

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Govt ignoring farmer suicides

Posted by Ramoo on March 9, 2007…

GANDHINAGAR: A senior BJP MLA from Saurashtra, who resigned from the Modi ministry two years ago, has written a scathing letter to the chief minister complaining of as many as seven suicides by farmers in Amreli in the last three months. Bavku Undhad has bemoaned that the state government has not take cognisance of the growing distress in the rural areas.
Undhad wrote the letter a few weeks back, but its details were made known on Wednesday after a verbal duel in the state Assembly with Modi on an issue concerning about his tenure in the government from 2003 to 2005 as youth and culture minister.
Belonging to the rebel camp and the Leuva patel community, to which Modi’s main detractor Keshubhai Patel belongs, Undhad has demanded ‘immediate compensation’ to the farmers.
In the letter Undhad has said that the number of suicide deaths in Saurashtra is much more as many of them are not being reported. In a written reply to his starred question, the government has admitted to 1,508 suicides in the state in 2006 against 600 to 700 on an average each year.
Undhad’s calling attention notice in the state Assembly for discussion on the suicide by Amreli farmers, was rejected. State BJP chief Purshottam Rupala, also from Amreli, however, denied that there were any suicides.
Rebel MLAs, however, asked why the government was refusing to discuss the issue in the House if there was no issue.
Undhad has also listed the farmers who have committed suicide after being heavily in debt. The suicide victims mentioned in the letter are Shambhubhai Khunt of Randal-Davda village had borrowed Rs 4 lakh which he could not pay back; Jagdishbhai Vasoya of Sanadi village was unable to pay back Rs 2 lakh; and Dinesh Lambasia of Khajuri village had a debt of Rs 4 lakh.
Undhad said four others committed suicide by drowning off the Somnath-Veraval coast. They were harassed by the state electricity board officials to pay up Rs 2 lakh for which they took a loan from a local moneylender at high interest which they failed to pay. In the end they owed the moneylender Rs 12 lakh.
In the Assembly, Undhad supported Opposition leader Arjun Modhvadia, who said that Undhad as youth and culture affairs minister had written to Modi that the state’s sportsmen had recommended an increase in stipend from Rs 45 to Rs 75 per day which had not been implemented. “If this is true, this was a violation of oath of secrecy, and action would be taken, if true,” Modi declared.
Undhad shot back later, “If you can pay Rs 500 per dish to the Vibrant Gujarat guests, what’s wrong if I recommended increase in the stipend for sportsmen.
Even Rs 75 isn’t enough.” He denied that his letter to Modi was a violation of oath of secrecy.

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