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Priest blames government for deaths
Paddy procurement policies causing many farmers to commit suicide, he saysA rice field
- Julian Das, Kolkata
- February 17, 2012
At least 32 farmers have taken their own lives over the past four months, most in the state‚Äôs Burdwan district.
‚ÄúThe government is responsible for the debacle as it didn‚Äôt procure paddy direct from the farmers who harvested the crop,‚ÄĚ Father Irudaya Jothi, director of the Jesuit-run Udayani (awakening) social center said today.
The center is involved in promoting awareness campaigns on the government‚Äôs Right to Food Act in the state‚Äôs Burdwan and Hooghly districts.
Father Jothi says local distributors have an arrangement with designated rice mills meaning farmers are required to take paddy to these mills at great expense to themselves.
He said farmers are therefore unwilling to sell their harvest to private agencies as they buy the rice at a much lower price than the government.
Farmers are subsequently not able to repay any debts as they cannot sell their crop, said the priest.
The government should procure paddy from farmers directly without using middlemen, he added.
Father Yesukani Soosaiappan, director of the Baruipur diocesan social center, Palli Unnayan Samity (rural development society), also accused the government of not providing seeds of a particular variety of paddy, which is easier to grow and so is in demand among farmers.
‚ÄúThere was a very positive response from farmers to cultivate a saline-tolerant variety of paddy, but unfortunately the government is not giving out seeds of this variety,‚ÄĚ he said.
A member of the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist) Shyamal Chakrabarty claimed that farmer suicides are increasing in the state and also urged the government today to buy paddy from the farmers directly, as was done during his party‚Äôs 34-year rule.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee denied her policies are to blame, calling the accusations baseless.
More farmer deaths feared as authorities get tough