On the night of November 5, Datta Chouhan (45) a farmer from Bhamb village in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district did not return home.
The next day when his wife carried food to the farm for him, he informed her that he had swallowed poison. He was frustrated with the destruction of his crop in the July floods. And the non-payment of the compensation promised by the state government.
“After telling me about what he had done to himself, he started crying, asking me to save him,” recounted Yashoda with tears in her eyes. But it was too late.
Datta of Bhamb village was one of the 170 plus disgruntled farmers from Yavatmal district who ended their lives unable to bear the long delay in getting flood relief.
The entire district is staring at huge crop damage caused by heavy rains, but the farmers are apprehensive about the receiving relief from the government. This is because many who lost their crop in the 2006 floods are receiving have started receiving compensation only from September this year, after a delay of seven years.
Even the Sarpanch of Bhamb village Namdev Pandy claimed that the compensation received by his villagers for 2006 floods was “too little and too late”.
The farmers of Sewadasnagar in Darhava tehsil say the compensation they finally received for 2006 was too meagre to really help. They received hardly Rs.400 to Rs.500 per acre for crop damage.
“Four acres were eroded in my field in 2006. I have received Rs.1,800 as compensation”said Ganesh Jadhav of Sewadasnagar where Dhanyeshwar Rathod (29) who killed himself on November 14.
According to government estimates, 827 villages were affected by heavy rains and floods due to over-flowing Wainganga River in 2006. Crops in over 10,000 hectares were damaged affecting 20,187 farmers in 2006, said a press release by district administration. The district administration received Rs. 9.79 to disburse compensation to farmers only on August 31 this year.
When asked about the delay in distributing the compensation, Yavatmal District Collector Ashwin Mudgal said the relief amount came only after he persistently followed it up. “I must have written at least 12 letters to the concerned authorities” Mr..Mudgal told The Hindu.
The press release praises Ministers Shivajirao Moghe Nitin Raut as well as State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre for their efforts to get the compensation.
“This is a cruel joke on the farmers. What does the administration want to convey? Such delays are killing the farmers here”said Mr. Mohan Jadhav, an activist of the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, which works with the distressed farmers of Vidarbha.