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The hailstorm that brought Maharashtra farmers to the brink

Last updated on: March 25, 2014 13:23 IST

The hailstorm that brought Maharashtra farmers to the brink

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Suparna Gangal

Unseasonal rains and hailstorms have destroyed fruits, grains vegetables and orchards of an untold number of farmers in Beed in Maharashtra. As many as 17 farmers have allegedly committed suicide in the agrarian crisis hit Vidarbha region in the last five days, a non-governmental organisation working for their cause has claimed.

Photographs and text by Suparna Gangal

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Image: A farmer shows his destroyed crops in Beed, Maharashtra


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The hailstorm that brought Maharashtra farmers to the brink

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This catastrophe wouldn't have hit at a worst time. For the past two years, the farmers have had to deal with the worst drought-like situation, and now with this hailstorm the vicious cycle of debt gets even deeper for the predominantly farmer community in this area.

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Image: A farmer walks along his destroyed crops

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The hailstorm that brought Maharashtra farmers to the brink

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The debt-ridden farmers here are a beleaguered lot, almost wanting to bow down to nature earth and the political indifference over the years.

Their standing crop has vanished, the cattle has no space to take shelter in the sweltering heat and there is nothing left in stock to tide over, till the new crop emerges and then, there are injuries to family members to deal with, both physical as well as psychological.

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Image: The unseasonal rains and hailstorms have destroyed crops over 19 lakh hectares

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The hailstorm that brought Maharashtra farmers to the brink

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"Vidarbha alone has seen 36 suicides since unseasonal rain and hailstorm that lashed the region since February 25. We have visited the families of 17 farmers who have killed themselves in last five days and the names of the farmers who committed suicide have been collected," Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishor Tiwari said in a statement.

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Image: The hailstorm has literally left the hapless farmers on the brink


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The hailstorm that brought Maharashtra farmers to the brink

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The Maharashtra government last week declared a relief aid of Rs 4,000 crore but the ground reality is that the list of farmers has not been finalised so far due to the apathy of the bureaucrats who are busy with the general election schedule, he alleged.

The hailstorm has affected 28 of the 35 districts destroying crops on over 19 lakh hectares and leaving farmers on the brink.

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Image: The farmers' standing crop has vanished, and the cattle has no space to take shelter in the sweltering heat

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The hailstorm that brought Maharashtra farmers to the brink

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"We are told by the local authorities that relief aid can only be given after election," Tiwari said and added that the farmers whose crops have suffered more than 50 per  cent damage will only be given relief.


Image: Rabi wheat, jowar and sugarcane have been damaged, and fruit crops including pomegranate, mango, orange and grapes are also affected

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