It's official. Even as Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy admitted there had been 20 suicides by farmers in the state in the last 40 days, yet another case came to light on Saturday.
Peddolla Nadipi Bhumanna hanged himself at home in Donchanda village of Morthad mandal late on Friday night. It's learnt that the 55-year-old farmer, faced with crop failure, was driven to desperation because he was unable to clear his mounting debts.
Most suicides in Andhra Pradesh have been reported from the arid regions of Telangana and Rayalaseema, where farmers are heavily dependent on rain.
As in Vidharbha last year, most of the suicides have been farmers who had borrowed heavily from private money lenders at exhorbitant interest rates. The loans were taken to dig borewells to tap ground water for cotton and other vegetable crops in the absence of rain. The situation has been exacerbated by the falling water table in these districts.
Despite the alarming rise in suicides, the state government has dithered over an official announcement of drought areas, saying that it was trying to help suffering farmers with crop insurance and loans for the current kharif season. The chief minister's office has merely announced a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh for each of the suicide-hit families.
Reddy, who is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, wants an additional Rs 2,000 crore to provide employment to people in the drought-hit areas.
The government says that 11 of the 20 farmer suicides were in Anantapur, four in Adilabad, three in Warangal, and two in Medak district. The 21st is in Nizamabad district.
Police said that Bhumanna's family woke on Saturday to find his limp corpse. Neighbours who rushed to the spot informed the police.
Following a dry spell, Bhumanna had dug two borewells to get water to his fields but in vain. The farmer, who owned five acres, suffered from a kidney problem. He had borrowed Rs 20 lakh from private money lenders.
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