Frustrated over not receiving compensation for crops that he lost during heavy rains earlier this year, a farmer from the Digras village of Maharashtra’s Wardha district has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, threatening to sell his kidney.
Dhyaneshwar Shankarrao Lokhande, 50, who invested Rs.80,000 to cultivate soyabean in his eight acres of land, staged a protest in front of the District Collector’s office last month without success.
He said he decided to commit suicide after his futile protest last month. “But when I came back home and looked at my kids, I couldn't kill myself.”
He has a debt of about Rs. 1 lakh and has five people to feed in his family. “If I am able to sell my kidney, I can look after my family for a few more years.”
The villagers of Digras support Dhyaneshwar and want to emulate him if he successfully sells his kidney. “If his kidney gets a good price, we will also put our kidneys on sale,” said Lakshmanrao Nehare, Dhyansehwar’s neighbour, whose crops were also damanged.
But Digras is not the only village in Wardha where farmers suffered crop damage. In the district alone, crops sown over one lakh hectares were damaged, said District Collector N. Nawin Sona.
The State government announced Rs. 1934 crore relief, but no one has received a dime yet. Distribution of the compensation, Mr. Sona hoped, would start it in “next few days.”
District authority officials claimed to have paid compensation to farmers in some of the villages for damage to their houses. One among them, Ruprao Bawane of Juvadi village, received Rs. 80.
“My house was badly damaged in July’s rain. I had to spend more than Rs. 12,000 to rebuild it and the government gave me a cheque for Rs.80,” Ruprao said.
According to Moreswar Waghmare, the sarpanch of Juvadi, very few people have received compensation in his village, but no farmer has been paid for the crop damage. “In my village, almost every farmer has lost over 60 per cent of his crop due to heavy and untimely rain this year,” he told The Hindu.
“Half of the crops in nearly one lakh hectares of land were damaged. The return rains have added to the woes. We have received Rs. 25 crore out of Rs. 225 crore for the Nagpur division. According to our survey, the district needs at least Rs. 55 crore,” Mr. Sona told The Hindu. He said the administration would definitely look into Dhayneshwar Lokhande’s plight and intervene.
According to Avinash Kakade of the Kisan Adhikar Abhiyan, a farmers’ advocacy group in Wardha, over 160 farmers in the district committed suicide in 2013 due to crop loss. “We are trying to create awareness among farmers but this year’s heavy rains only added to their problems. More farmers may commit suicide if they don’t receive proper and timely help,” he said.