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Three Maharashtra debt-ridden farmers ended lives on budget day

Nagpur: Three debt-ridden farmers committed suicide even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented his well-received budget on Thursday, a farm NGO said on Friday.

The extreme step by the farmers was prompted by the failed monsoon in large parts of eastern Maharashtra, which has compelled many of them to go in for second and third sowing this year.

According to NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishore Tiwari, over 800,000 farmers in the region have become victims of little or no rains as the cotton sowing season is in full swing.

"They sowed seeds bought from loans early June. But, after the crop rotted without rains, many again availed loans for a second sowing late June, which met the same fate. Some are now going for a third sowing, hoping rains will revive in July, but so far the skies are clear," Tiwari told IANS.

The elusive rains have destroyed the cotton and soyabean seeds sowed in over two million hectare farmlands across Vidarbha, even as the spectre of drought looms large, he claimed.

The three who ended their lives are Jayantrao Misal (40) and D.N. More (40) both from Yavatmal and S.S. Meshram (42) from Bhandara-Gondiya. "The first budget of the new NDA regime failed to enthuse the farmers especially, as there was no mention of minimum support prices for cotton. Now, there are reports cheap cotton is being imported in huge quantities into India. This will multiply the farmland miseries for the next four-five years," rued Tiwari.

Hoping to draw the government's attention to the impending crises and halt the cotton imports, Tiwari said hundreds of farmers will stage a sit-in demonstration and a day-long hunger strike in Yavatmal on Saturday.The VJAS has demanded announcement of a minimum support price for cotton, waiver of all farm loans, fresh credit for taking advantage of the sowing season which will end soon besides food, health and education security for the farmers, among other things.

Incidentally, the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has put Maharashtra on the top in the list of farmland suicides with 3,146 deaths in 2013. The NCRB said since 1995, there have been 60,768 farmer suicides in the state, which Tiwari has termed as "genocide" perpetrated by the wrong policies of the central and the state governments.

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