(NEWS) Hair Dye Sale Banned due to farmer suicides

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh have banned the sale of a cheap variety of hair dye after it came to light debt-ridden farmers were turning to it to end their lives, an official said on Friday.

At least 11 farmers have died from swallowing the hair dye in the state's drought-affected Bundelkhand region in the past three months, said Rajiv Agarwal, a senior state official.

The hair dye could trigger kidney failure if ingested, said Ganesh Kumar, principal of the Maharani Lakshmi Bai Medical College.

"We have banned the sale of the cheap dye made locally in Uttar Pradesh state," said Agarwal.

Bundelkhand, known for its rugged topography, has been battling a severe drought caused by the failure of monsoon rains for the past four years.

"The farm lands have turned barren. An exodus of people has begun - the young have migrated to nearby cities, leaving behind women and elderly people," Agarwal said.

The region is about 300 kilometres southwest of Lucknow, the state's capital.

Debt relief plans

Last month, the federal government announced plans to cancel debts due on or before December 31, 2007 for poor farmers with land holdings of up to two hectares. The move is expected to benefit about four million farmers.

Poor farmers often borrow money from banks or private lenders to buy seeds and meet family expenses. Some are forced to take extreme measures after failing to repay the loans because of crop failures.

Courtesy: AP, GulfNews