Farmer takes his own life in Telangana over officials’ refusal to procure his stock

Published : December 02, 2021 17:49 IST

At a paddy procurement centre at Gokenapalli in Khammam on December 1. Photo: G.N. Rao

Even as the Union Ministry of Food and Public Distribution was busying itself parading figures and stating how paddy procurement from the States for the 2021-22 kharif marketing season (KMS) at MSP was progressing smoothly, another debt-ridden Telangana paddy farmer took his own life, purportedly after failing to convince officials to procure his stock. The farmer’s death comes as the Telangana and the Centre continue to lock horns over the latter’s quantity of paddy procurement.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the distraught farmer, 45-year-old B. Kumar from Shivapur village in Telangana’s Mulugu district, had brought his produce to a paddy procuring centre close to his residence. Unable to convince officials even after trying for nearly 20 days, he consumed pesticide and collapsed on his sacks of paddy on the night of November 30. According to an Inspector of Police from Eturunagaram, an unconscious Kumar was initially taken to a local hospital and then to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Warangal. He succumbed on December 1 while being treated.

Reliable sources said that Kumar had taken up paddy cultivation on seven acres of land, a major portion of which he had leased at Rs.10,000 per acre per season only a year ago. A father of two daughters, Kumar had gifted away 1.5 acres of land as dowry when he gave his elder daughter in marriage. The police said that Kumar had borrowed around Rs.4 lakh from several people. He had also availed a loan to buy his tractor.

The paddy farmer’s death is the fourth in Telangana in less than a month. It comes even as the K. Chandrashekhar Rao-led Telangana government and the Centre continue to spar over the amount of paddy that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) procures from Telangana’s farmers. Chandrasekhar Rao had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the Centre to enhance the amount of paddy procured from 40 lakh tonnes to 90 lakh tonnes in the ongoing KMS. The Centre has refused to oblige. Members of Parliament belonging to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) have been protesting both inside and outside Parliament over the Centre’s refusal.

Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Union Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution, stated in a written reply to a question raised by TRS MPs on December 1 that the target for procuring kharif rice from Telangana has been fixed at 40 lakh tonnes. And that during the rabi season 2020-2021, a record 61.87 lakh tonnes of rice had been procured by the State government and its agencies as against a target of 55 lakh tonnes. According to the Centre, the surplus rice offered by Telangana during the last rabi season was accepted by the FCI under the central pool stock.

As per figures published by the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution, during the ongoing (2021-22) KMS, the FCI has procured 16.13 lakh tonnes of paddy, worth Rs.3,163 crore, from Telangana until November 30. During the same period, the FCI had procured 187 lakh tonnes worth Rs.36,623.97 crore from farmers in Punjab and 55.30 lakh tonnes worth Rs.108,40 crore from farmers in Haryana.

During the entire 2020-21 kharif season, the FCI had procured 141.08 lakh tonnes of paddy worth Rs.26,637.39 crore from Telangana. In the same period, the FCI procured 202.82 lakh tonnes worth Rs.38,293.23 crore from Punjab.

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