September 18, 2008
23 Farmers Seek Prez Permission to End Lives
By Proshun Chakraborty
WANI: For the distressed farmers of Yavatmal in Maharashtra, the reasons driving them to suicide have been crop failure and crippling debts. There is another now: pollution by state-owned coal mines.
The spraying of coal dust on the fields by the hundreds of trucks rolling out of Coal India Ltd's Western Coal Fields has severely hit farmers in the region.
Farmers say the coal dust from the open mines settle on the top soil and on crops jeopardising farming. As many as 23 farmers of Pinpalgaon, Junad and Brahmani in Wani, about 130km from Nagpur, have now written to President Pratibha Patil saying they want her "permission to end our lives".
"The open mines of WCL in Wani shower heaps of ash on our farms. The flow of water too is restricted because of these heaps. There have been heavy crop losses," says Balu Pundalik Khamankar, former sarpanch of Brahmani village and a farmer.
As many as seven farmers have killed themselves in Vidarbha region in the last month alone.
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