“Garkheda village is on sale. Buy the entire village with its farmland and cattle,” declares the board put up in the Garkheda village in the Hingoli district in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. Amidst various big sales ahead of the Diwali festival, this sale offer is unique as it reflects the state of affairs in rural parts, say villagers.
“We are left with no other option than to sell our village with our farmland, homes, and cattle. We have lost everything in the last three years due to excess and unseasonal rains. First drought and then excess rains have crippled farmers. Farming is the main occupation but hardly any farmer has harvested soya and tur in the last three years. We don’t have money to pay loans taken from finance companies and these companies are after our lives” Arun Patil, sarpanch of Garkheda told businessline.
The economy of the village revolves around farming and there is hardly any other source of income for villagers.
The village is facing power cuts as villagers have not paid their electricity bills. “We don’t have money to survive and how we are going to pay electricity bills?” asks Patil. Villagers say that they celebrate festivals in dark and have to walk miles to fetch water.
According to Garkheda villagers, the Government has not provided any relief to farmers in the village and neither have they received any compensation under the crop insurance scheme.
In a letter dated October 16 to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, villagers informed the Government about the sale of the village. “We have unanimously decided to sell our village with cattle and farmland. Please take cognizance and accept our demands,” farmers stated in the letter.
Farmers have demanded that the Government must waive the loans of farmers who died due to Covid-19 and announce the Hingoli district as a farmer suicide-affected district.
Villagers have also announced that Gram Panchayat and village school will be closed and the village will boycott all elections. If demands are not accepted, the Government must permit euthanasia, said villagers in the letter.
One of the local scribes in Hingoli told businessline that unseasonal and excess rains have triggered farmer suicides in the region but the Government has ignored the demands made by farmers. “The sale of the village is a desperate effort by villagers to draw the Government’s attention,” he said.