NEW DELHI/RANCHI, 28 JUNE: Union agriculture minister Mr Sharad Pawar said today that there is no drought-like situation in the country, even though the monsoon rains have been delayed, but there are thousands of farmers in Jharkhand who beg to differ.
Hit by drought for the fourth successive year and fed up of the government's apathy to their woes, thousands of farmers of Chhattarpur block in Jharkhand's Palamau district have launched a signature campaign seeking "mercy killing" from President Pratibha Patil.
"In the 2006 drought, farmers sold their bullock cart, goats and other things. In 2007, we sold our land. In the 2008 drought, we were forced to sell our wives' jewellery. Now what should we sell in the 2009 drought. Should we sell ourselves? We may have been deprived to lead a respectable life but we should be allowed a respectable death," reads the four-page letter addressed to the President.
Mr Devanand Mahato, one of the farmers who launched the campaign in Chhattarpur, said 2,000 farmers have already signed the letter. "We will get the letter signed by 5,000 farmers, then it will be sent to the President."
"Farmers are fed up of the successive droughts and are voluntarily coming forward to put their signatures and thumb impressions on the letter," he said.
The letter said: "Chhattarpur block farmers are facing successive drought since 2006. This area lacks basic facilities like irrigation, health facilities, food security. Our crops were destroyed due to scanty rainfall and we did not get crop insurance money."
Reacting to reports of the signature campaign, Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi said: "The government is serious about addressing the concerns of the farmers and no one will be allowed to die due to the drought."
Mr Sharad Pawar, meanwhile, told a television today: “There is no drought like situation because of the delay in the monsoon and the losses would be compensated in the months of July and August... There is no need to worry.” Mr Pawar also discounted rumours of price rise and said that food procurement this year was better and the government had “enough stock of seeds and food grain”. ;SNS & IANS
Source: The Statesman, 29 June 2009