Since the devastation during the worst floods in a century, the high range Idukki district has reported eight deaths of farmers due to debt, following crop failure or loss of livelihood.
Apparently distressed by mounting debts and damage to crops due to the August floods, a 49-year-old farmer from Thrissur district allegedly ended his life on Friday, taking the total number of farmer deaths in Kerala in the last two months to nine. Police sources said the farmer, Jijo Paul, committed suicide by hanging himself inside his house at Mala in Thrissur district. His wife saw him hanging inside the first floor bedroom and informed police.
Paul’s relatives said he had taken loans from various banks since the floods in August last year. Since the devastation during the worst floods in a century, the high range Idukki district has reported eight deaths of farmers due to debt, following crop failure or loss of livelihood. James (52), a farmer hailing from Adimali in the district, was found hanging in a local teak plantation on Tuesday.
The deceased farmer, whose pepper vines was destroyed in the deluge, had failed to repay his loans which he availed from banks, his relatives said. Besides farm loans from different banks, James had availed a loan for the education of his children, they said. Other farmers who took their lives are: Santhosh, Sahadevan, Johny Mathayi, Raju, Sreekumar,Rajan and Surendran.
Some of them reportedly received recovery notices from the respective banks as they had failed to repay the loans. Considering the gravity of the situation, authorities had asked all banks to stop recovery proceedings on the loans availed by farmers. Government has also issued an order declaring moratorium on loans disbursed in the district till October 2019 in view of the floods.
Idukki and Thrissur districts had witnessed massive destruction during the flood fury in August, when over 400 people had lost their lives in the state.
Meanwhile, protesting against the government’s “insensitive response” to the farmers’ issue, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala said he would observe a fast on March 6 at Kattapana in Idukki. Chennithala told reporters that the state government should write off farm loans of up to Rs 5 lakh to give the much needed relief to the farmers.