Rubbishing claims that the suicide of a farmer in Katihar district was due to the failure of maize crops in that region, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday announced a subsidy of Rs 10,000 for every hectare of crop damaged.
“The alleged suicide (as reported in the media) of Jagdish Sharma, a maize cultivator in Katihar, had nothing to do with crop failure. The Katihar superintendent of police (SP) and the district agriculture officer (DAO) probing the case had discovered that he [Sharma] had died after inhaling strong pesticides while spraying them on his field,” stated Mr. Kumar, adding that “Sharma's viscera had been sent for further investigation.”
Addressing an angry Opposition during the zero-hour session in the State Legislative Assembly, Mr. Kumar said that a probe committee comprising of agricultural scientists from the Rajendra Agricultural University (RAU), would soon be dispatched to the regions around the Kosi belt to ascertain the causes of the maize crop failure.
Revealing that “50,000 of the 3.75 lakh hectares of land under maize cultivation in the state had been damaged”, Mr. Kumar said that private companies engaged in supplying seeds for the maize crop had been asked to explain the reason for crop failure.
Earlier, State Agriculture Minister Renu Kuswaha had said that it was being determined whether the crop failure had been due to poor seed quality or bad weather.
“We will take stern action if any of these firms are found responsible for supplying inferior quality seeds,” said Mr. Kumar.
However, the kin of Jagdish Sharma, who belonged to Mohinipur village in Katihar, claim that his inability to repay a debt of Rs. 15,000 had driven him to take the extreme step.
Apart from Sharma, Mohammad Nizamuddin, another small-margin maize farmer from Purnia district had attempted to take his life last week owing to failure of his crop. However, timely intervention by his relatives saved his life.