Debt-ridden farmer commits suicide

July 23rd, 2008 - 12:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Kendrapada (Orissa), July 23 (IANS) A debt-ridden farmer has committed suicide after he failed to repay a loan of Rs.40,000 to private moneylenders because his crops were damaged by last month’s flood in this district, according to his family. Ananta Charana Rout, 54, of Hagaribagija village in Kendrapada district, some 150 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, had raised a paddy crop on his two-acre plot after taking loans from two moneylenders in the village.

Rout, the breadwinner for his family of five, had purchased paddy seeds and fertilisers with the loan. But recent floods in the state damaged the saplings, devastating his hopes, his widow Bidulata Rout told IANS.

Rout ended his life Monday by hanging himself in his hut.

The central government in its annual budget in March had ordered waiver of agricultural loans taken from cooperative societies and banks by small farmers of India.

But many small farmers often find it difficult to get loans from banks and end up borrowing from private moneylenders, who charge huge rates of interest.

“Large number of farmers like Rout obtain loans from village moneylenders. The village moneylenders charge 10 to 20 percent interest,” said Umesh Chandra Singh, president of Krusaka Sabha, a farmers’ body.

Rout’s widow said: “He had been running from pillar to post to get loan from any cooperative society. But nobody helped him.”

The district administration has ordered a probe and the police have lodged a case of “unnatural death”.

“Last month, the swirling floodwaters rose to a height of two metres and invaded my brother’s two acres,” said Chaitanya Rout, younger brother of the victim. “When the floodwaters receded, he found his paddy saplings were silted up and rotten.”

The floods triggered by heavy rain in June claimed 11 lives in Orissa and affected 1.5 million people, leaving more than 20,000 homeless, officials said.

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