Farm distress appears to have peaked following the latest round of rain and hailstorms in north India reports The Times of India.
Rain and storm inflicted further damage to crops already hit by unseasonal showers since mid-February, with reports of a spate of deaths coming in from affected districts.
Reports from the ground suggest at least 30 farmers have allegedly died of trauma or suicide in the past four days alone in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, although the state governments have not yet recognized most of these as deaths related to crop damage.
The UP government said on Monday damage to crops had now spread to 40 districts, up from the 33 districts declared rain-hit earlier. The government also reassessed the loss to life and property and said the monetary losses were now upwards of Rs 1,100 crore.
More than 5 lakh farming families, spanning more than 70% of UP's rural population, have been affected by the unseasonal rains.
Although unofficial reports put farmer deaths in the state in the month of March at 100, the government confirmed 35 farmer deaths, all accidental deaths related to weather, according to UP chief secretary Alok Ranjan. A consolidated compensation of Rs 7 lakh each has been paid.
None of the 24 deaths reported from the ground since Saturday in UP figure in the official list, although the government said it would be assess these deaths shortly.
As many as 17 of these deaths were reported from UP's Bareilly division since Friday, with six reported on Saturday. Two of these were alleged suicides — 28-year-old Munendra Giri of Kakori village in Badaun district who hanged himself and Ashutosh Manjhi, 40, of Gajraula tehsil, who locals claimed had consumed poison because of debt.
The other four deaths were due to heart attack, allegedly brought about by damage to their crops. The deceased were identified as 55-year-old Siya Ram Yadav of village Naugawan Ahiran; Lekhraj, 45, of Bhojpur village: Savitri Devi, 60, of Jaunwar village under Meergunj tehsil and Krishna Das, 62, a farmer of Dandia Beeram Nagla village.
Meanwhile, officials in Bareilly said there is likelihood that the sum of Rs 16.68 crore earmarked as compensation to farmers may be enhanced to Rs 35 crore after a revised survey report was sent to the state government. Compensation has been paid to around 4,882 farmers in the district.
At least five deaths of farmers were reported in the last 48 hours from Agra and one each from the neighbouring Etah and Firozabad districts. One of these was a suicide — Ramroop, 42, from Gadwar village of Bah block, who set himself afire on Sunday.
In Bewar block of Mainpuri district, Bhojraj, 50, died when a tree fell on him during a dust storm. The rest of the deaths were attributed to trauma.
Three deaths, all from heart attack, were reported from a single village in Rewari district of Haryana. Reports said all three farmers — Anita, 42, Dharampal, 55, and Shri Chand, 80 — had suffered close to 100% loss to their wheat crop due to the recent rains and hailstorms.
Jatusana station house officer Narender Singh confirmed that the families concerned had told the police that the three died due to shock when then saw their damaged crops.
Kosli sub-divisional magistrate Nirmal Nagar told TOI that farmers of the village were not in a position to bear loses to their crops.
After getting information about the repeated deaths in the village, Nagar along with revenue officials on Monday visited Darauli and conducted the girdawari (assessment) to know the exact loss to crops. "The damage to the crops is almost 100%," Nagar confirmed.
In Hisar, Om Prakash, 49, of Beer Baabran, a farmer tilling someone else's land, hung himself from a tree in Ramdhan Seed Farm of Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agriculture University (HAC) after he allegedly lost his entire wheat and methi crop.
In Punjab's Bathinda district, an indebted farmer, Naib Singh of Bath village, committed suicide by consuming poison.
Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, has declaring Mathura as the worst-hit district, where special arrangements will shortly be made. The government said it has released a total of Rs 500 crore to affected districts so far, including Rs 300 crore released on Monday.
On Monday, a small farmer jumped in front of a running train in Jalaun. The suicide note recovered from him said that he was ending his life through a government vehicle as he was upset over the lack of help after he lost his crop.