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Indian diocese to rescue debt-ridden farmers

Sustainable income plan needed in Amravati to reverse spike in suicides

Bishop Lourdes Daniel of Amravati lights a lamp at a gathering in the city on Jan. 25 Bishop Lourdes Daniel of Amravati lights a lamp at a gathering in the city on Jan. 25
  • Saji Thomas, Amravati
  • India
  • January 25, 2011
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A diocesan social service society in western India is to focus on ways to create sustainable sources of income for debt-ridden farmers to prevent them from committing suicide due to abject poverty.

“The Church needs to do more on creating sustainable sources of income for poverty-struck farmers rather than working on short-term programs,” Father Jolly Puthenpura, director of Amravati Diocesan Social Development Society, told ucanews.com yesterday.

The priest was speaking after a gathering marking the society’s 10 years of work in Amravati, Maharashtra state.

Over 300 people, including government officials, Church workers and beneficiaries attended the program.

Father Puthenpura said the past eight years have seen self-inflicted “genocide” in the diocese due to successive crop failures.

Official figures say 4,427 debt-ridden farmers in the region have committed suicide in the past 10 years. However, social activists say the actual figure is three times more.

The society says it has in the past decade helped over 400,000 farmers in Amravati, Akola, Buldana, Washim and Yavatmal districts.

Bishop Lourdes Daniel of Amravati, apostolic administrator of the diocese, said, the society strives hard to fight against poverty and other social evils.

Father Puthenpura said the diocese has also helped some 11,000 victims of natural calamities, 3,000 debt-ridden farmers and 1,500 HIV/Aids patients.

The priest said that the diocese has only 7,000 Catholics out of a population of 11 million. More than 98 percent of Church work is among people of other religions.

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IC13017.1638
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