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Distraught Maharashtra farmer attempts suicide in collector’s office

Distraught over not getting compensation for losses suffered in the recent hailstorm in Maharashtra, a farmer consumed poison in the Yavatmal collectorate office, officials said Tuesday.

The incident occurred late Monday. Farmer Janardhan Raut, 70, hails from Akpuri village and is now battling for life in a hospital.

“There was this unfortunate incident just outside my office and we rushed him to hospital. We are taking details about the farmer, his debts, losses, etc,” Yavatmal collector Ashwin Muddal said.

“We have found a suicide note from his person and we are investigating,” an official from Yavatmal police station said.

According to Kishore Tiwari, chief of NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, Raut had gone to the collectorate to enquire when he would get the compensation for losses suffered in the hailstorm.

“He is also facing harassment from some private money lenders for old farm loans, details of which we are inquiring into,” said Tiwari.

The hailstorm and unseasonal rains lashed 28 of the 35 districts in the state in February-March, damaging or destroying standing crops in about 1.90 million hectares of farmland barring the coastal Konkan region.

As many as 18 farmers have committed suicide in the Vidarbha region alone while the state-wide figure has crossed 100, Tiwari said.

Despite announcements by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and a visit by a central assessment team, the farmers have not received any assistance, he added.

“The largest number of suicides have taken place in Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra. We wonder if all the aid has been diverted to western Maharashtra which has barely reported any case of a farmer ending life in the past couple of weeks,” Tiwari said.

He said the state government has already declared a relief package of about Rs.4,000 crore, but officials at the ground level say the amount would not be disbursed till the Lok Sabha elections are over.

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