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Why Farmer Suicides Continue in Uttar Pradesh

Despite Uttar Pradesh government’s loan waiver scheme, Munna Lal, a farmer eligible for the scheme remains trapped in a debt-cycle.

Around 35,000 farmers from all over the country marched to Delhi on November 30 to demand a one-time unconditional loan waiver, increased minimum support prices and special session in the parliament to address the agrarian crisis. Munna Lal from Uttar Pradesh’s Lalitpur district is one such farmer, trapped in a seemingly unending debt cycle and often sees ending his life is the only plausible solution to this.

“I continually keep drowning in debt. I constantly feel like committing suicide,” he says. According to data from the Ministry of Home Affairs, in 2016, 6,531 farmers and cultivators committed suicide across India. While in April 2017, the UP government announced Rs 36, 359 crore loan waiver scheme to farmers, Munna has a debt that has been growing year on year. “I have one hectare land and no constant source of water. In 2014, I had taken a loan of Rs 75,000 from State Bank of Mahroni which I haven't been able to pay back until now. I had taken it for farming. The crops don't grow properly, sometimes there's too much rain and sometimes there are worms,” laments Munna.

According to the Agricultural Statistics of 2016, around 52% of Indian agricultural households are indebted with an average outstanding loan of Rs 47,000. Additional health care costs also increase farmer debts. A 2015 analysis of NSSO data by National Bank For Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) also revealed that loans taken for health reasons or other outstanding loans have doubled from 3% in 2002 to 6% in 2012. “I have a lot of problems. My wife needed a kidney operation which came up to Rs 60-70,000. I have also had a serious heart attack twice which has cost me nearly a lakh because of which I'm constantly drowning in debt,” added Munna.

Munna’s daughter’s education has also been affected because of his dwindling financial condition. “I have passed my 10th standard from Swami Vivekanand this year but I haven't been able to pay my schools fees worth Rs 8,000 and because of that they haven't given me my mark sheet,” says his daughter, Raneshwari.

In September 2018, Munna submitted an application to the District Magistrate seeking a loan waiver but received no response.

Please call the District Magistrate of Lalitpur on 9454417549 and request him to waive off Munna’s loan.

Video by Community Correspondent Shankarlal Raikwar

Article by Kavyasri Srinath, a Producer-Writer at Video Volunteers

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