(Report) Relief to Bundelkhand farmers comes late : NDTV

The Rs 60,000 crore amnesty from burdening loans comes as a relief to four crore farmers.

But in the so-called suicide zones of the country, where drought and debt have driven farmers to end their lives, the move comes too late.

NDTV travelled to Bundelkhand, where there have been 2000 suicides in three years. Here the intended beneficiaries of the loan waiver have either lost their land or are already dead.

Ram Rati, a suicide victim's widow said, ''There was no food for three to four days. So he hung himself from a tree.''

Mehar Singh, 40, was the fourth suicide in Jhansi's Nauta village in 300 days. But there's a dispute in the details.

This government official says it wasn't hunger that drove him to suicide.

Ironically Mehar Singh is now free of Rs 20,000 debt, regular thrashings from moneylenders and hunger.

In the past three years, 2000 men and women in Bundelkhand have opted for suicide as a solution.

This is because survival isn't easy. Kusum, a resident of Ganeshpura said, ''The crop tastes coarse. But we have to fill our bellies. It gives us acute constipation.''

Kusum has experimented with food items, a few days ago dinner had been dried flowers of the silk cotton tree.

Nabbu, Kusum's husband said, ''We have eaten flowers, we dried them, ground it and mixed with water and ate.''

The sun is unrelenting and the rain gods have failed for the fourth year, so the crop is bad.

A well is being dug at the edge of their village, this may bring water but for now it's meant to provide jobs.

Part of the UPA government's flagship Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, this well is perhaps an example of how the programme is working.

The law says 30 workers are to be hired daily, but only eight are hired. Total depth to be dug is 32 ft but only one foot can be dug per day and the Sarpanch says dig just 22 ft.

So the wages of 22 labourers for ten manned days will be pocketed by the Sarpanch.

The scheme even states that job will guaranteed for 100 days a year. Kirpal has got only 25 days of work in one and a half year. Sheela has a job now but no card.

People in the Bundelkhand region are facing not only hostile weather conditions but also a corrupt system.

Courtesy: NDTV.com