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Financial aid for widows of debt-ridden farmers
Nagpur, Nov 19 : A voluntary organisation has initiated a move to give financial aid of Rupees 500 per month to over 5,000 widows of debt-ridden farmers, who committed suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
Speaking to reporters here today, Kishore Tiwari, Convenor of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), which works among farmers in the region, said they would enlist the assistance of patrons from various parts of the country to provide aid to the women.
''The patrons will send the amount by money order to the beneficiaries every month so that the money reaches them directly.
This will eliminate the role of an intermediary,'' he said.
Help was being enlisted from patrons in Mumbai, Varanasi and Kolkata for the initiative, with those from other parts of the country expected to follow suit. ''There is no distinction on the basis of language or region. We are getting help from all sections of society,'' he said.
Mr Tiwari said the assistance would continue for at least ten years, or till such time that the economic condition of the bereaved family improved and it stood on its own feet. The money for six months or a year would be given in lump sum to some families, whose financial condition was slightly better, so that they could start a cottage industry of their own.
VJAS had requested Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to grant an audience to the widows during his visit to Mumbai on November 29, Mr Tiwari said.
''The Prime Minister is to visit Mumbai to discuss the 'outsiders' issue and to review the implementation of the two relief packages for farmers in Vidarbha, announced by him and by the state government. We want him to know the ground realities, which he will get to know by meeting the widows,'' the VJAS Convenor said.
The widows would also stage a 'dharna' at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on the same day to highlight their plight and to press their demands, Mr Tiwari said.
The farmers in Vidarbha were in dire straits and the situation was the worst in a decade because of the failure of cotton crops caused by the advent of pests, he claimed.
The number of suicides by debt-ridden farmers had touched 680 this year, with the total since 2004 being 5,168, Mr Tiwari said, adding there were 456 suicides in 2004, 666 in 2005, 1,886 in 2006 and 1,556 in 2007.