Naugachia, Aug. 21: Arvind Choudhary, a banana farmer from Makandpur village under Gopalpur block, had planned to get his daughter married in November this year. His plan, however, has been drowned along with his field in the floodwaters from Ganga.
On the morning of August 18, the entire Makandpur panchayat and neighbouring villages were submerged in floodwater after Ganga Prasad jamindari bund (embankment) was damaged near Goshigaon. Arvind had planted banana saplings in over seven bighas that he had taken on lease from a fellow villager. The owner of the land has to be paid Rs 12,000 per bigha. Now, with all his plants destroyed, the farmer, burdened with loans, is mulling suicide.
“I hoped for bumper crops this time. It would have helped me finalise my daughter’s marriage. The flood has destroyed all my plans. How will I pay back the debts of the mahajans (moneylenders)?” asked Arvind adding: “Perhaps, the only way left for me is suicide.”
Choudhary’s despair is shared by hundreds of farmers in the flood-ravaged sub-division, also known as the “banana pocket” of Bhagalpur. Banana plantations spread over more than 5,000 acre in Goshigaon, Makandpur, Pakra Tetri, Dharhara, Abhaya and Panchgachia have been completely damaged.
“Banana, maize and litchi crops have been destroyed. The government should immediately provide compensation to farmers,” said Lallan Roy, a Saidpur-based social worker.
Sudama Rajak, another farmer, said: “No one has shown any interest to purchase the bananas which we managed to save from the flood. We are offering them for prices as low as Rs 35 per hand. At other times, these bananas fetch Rs 110 and above per hand.”
This year, however, there is no profit, only debts.
Another farmer said he had taken a loan of Rs 3 lakh from two moneylenders at high interest. So, he has decided to migrate from his village, as the moneylenders, who are very influential people, could get him killed.“Please get me some poison. The insecticides I got for the fields were washed away in the flood,” he said.
Sub-divisional officer Sushil Kumar said only the state government could decide upon the compensation. “We would certainly recommend it to the government,” he said.
Gopalpur JD(U) MLA Gopal Mandal and Bihpur BJP legislator Sailendra also promised to urge to government to provide compensation to affected farmers.
Heavy showers and overflow from several tributaries of Kosi has inundated large tracts of the entire region, and spread fear among the residents of a repeat of the 2008 floods.
Though none of the embankments have been washed away, road link with Patna and other parts of the state have been submerged. Around 70 lakh residents of Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul districts have been affected.