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Punjab Cotton Farmers Committing Suicide Due To Crop Damages; Families Seeks Compensation

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Cotton Farmer

Punjab reported two purported suicides, a farmer and a farm labourer, both from Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda amid significant loss to the cotton crop due to pink bollworm infestation

Farm labourer Mohinder Singh was discovered hanging from a tree in the common area of his native village Jaga Ram Teerath on Tuesday morning, while Jaspal Singh Bhola, a farmer from Chathewala, reportedly committed suicide Wednesday morning over crop loss due to the pest infestation. Bhola, 48, owned a four-acre property where he grew cotton. According to his son, Navpreet Singh, the whole crop is being attacked by pink bollworms. 

“We have Rs 15 lakh in loan arrears, and the bank has issued a kurki (attachment) notice for Rs 10 lakh in land. My father committed suicide in the afternoon while no one was home. He was unhappy over the ruined cotton crop,” Navpreet explained, adding that his father was also suffering from stomach cancer. 

Additionally, Mohan Singh Chathewala of the BKU (Ugrahan) has asked that the state government pay Jaspal Singh's family Rs 10 lakh in compensation. In addition, he asked that one of his family members be hired by the government. 

Mohinder Singh, 42, was previously discovered hanging from a tree in the village of Jaga Ram Teerath's common area on Tuesday morning. Mohinder Singh, according to his wife Kulwant Kaur, owing about Rs 2 lakh in debt. She said that the family had not been employed for any job, such as cotton picking, because the season's cotton crop had been ravaged by pests. This exacerbated their financial difficulties. 

“The government must pay compensation to the family as per norms,” said Joginder Singh Jagga, a zila parishad member and a village resident. 

“Farm labourers are in anguish over the expansion of pink bollworm assault on cotton crop. Apart from farmers, they need to be rewarded as well.” said Gurdeep Singh, a panchayat member. 

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi stated on Sunday that the government will pay every cotton grower who has incurred losses owing to the onslaught of the pink bollworm. Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and O P Soni, the Deputy Chief Ministers, had called a special ‘girdawri' last week to evaluate the damage to the cotton crop caused by the pest assault. 

The BKU (Dakaunda) staged a dharna outside the Bathinda Deputy Commissioner's office on Wednesday, seeking Rs 60,000 per acre in compensation for farmers and Rs 25,000 per acre in compensation for agricultural labourers. 

“Girdawari has been declared, but no official is visiting the spot. We don't require any spraying at this time, but we do require remuneration. When the white fly damaged the cotton harvest in 2015, we received just Rs 8,000 per acre in compensation. We're looking for at least Rs 60,000 per acre right now. Examine the leasing rates as well as the input costs.”said Gurdeep Singh, vice-president, BKU (Dakaunda). 

It should be noted that the govt pays Rs 12,000 per acre in compensation. 

BKU (Ugrahan) vice president Shingara Singh Mann sought Rs 60,000 per acre compensation for farmers and Rs 30,000 per acre compensation for agricultural laborers at a separate meeting for the five districts of Malwa region that make up the cotton belt - Bathinda, Muktsar, Mansa, Fazilka, and Sangrur. 

Meanwhile, farmers in Mansa have claimed that they have yet to receive compensation for crop losses caused by a hailstorm in 2019. Tandian, Bajewala, Bhamme Kalan, and a few more villages were among those impacted. Farmers stated that while other villages in Bathinda had received compensation, Mansa farmers had not, despite repeated requests to the authorities. “How can we trust the officials now when they haven't reimbursed farmers for the previous two years?” asked Gurlabh Singh Mahal, a lawyer and a farmer. 

Click here to find out how to fight Pink Bollworm in Cotton Farming. 

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