A case study from Wayanad

How a farmer slipped into debt, paid with his life

“My husband told me before his death that he had outstanding loans of nearly ₹20 lakh, including penal interest, in four banks,” says Sujitha, wife of Dinesan, a marginal farmer in Wayanad, who committed suicide owing to financial distress.

He took ₹25,000 from the Panamaram branch of a primary cooperative bank around 15 years ago for cultivation on his four acres. But he could not recoup the amount owing to wildlife attack and crop failure. The recurring loss became a huge burden for him. He was forced to borrow a huge amount from other banks at Panamaram to repay the interest on the loan and resume cultivation, she added.

“We realised the seriousness of the debt when a team of bank officials visited our house and erected a flag as part of revenue recovery proceedings invoking the SARFAESI Act. We believe that the huge debt led him to the extreme act,” she said. Now, Sujitha and her two daughters are waiting for the mercy of the government after submitting a petition to write off the huge debt.

According to the Haritha Sena, a farmer organisation, as many as nine debt-ridden farmers ended their lives in six months in Wayanad alone this year. However, the issue was brought to the attention of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the intervention of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, MP from Wayanad. The Chief Minister directed Wayanad Collector A.R. Ajayakumar to conduct an inquiry into the “suicide” of Dinesan on a request from Mr. Gandhi.

Common policy sought

Mr. Ajayakumar, in his report, suggested that the government should draft a common policy on issues concerning farmers in distress as there were many similar cases in the district.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 9:44:28 AM |

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