MUMBAI: Twenty nine-year-old Inder Rathod, who works on cottons fields in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, had sprayed pesticide on the crop last week. That was the last time he saw the lush fields and fluffy cotton crop. “After the spray, I couldn’t see anything. It was so sudden,” he said.
He gets paid Rs. 200-250 per day for the hazardous job. “I have three kids and a wife and I am the only earning member. If my eyesight is gone, I don’t know how will I feed my family?” he said.
Depression and hopelessness drove him to attempt suicide four days ago. He jumped off a two-storey house. He survived but fractured his leg and is now recovering in a hospital.
Brahmanand Adik, 39, was also exposed to poison and had temporary loss of vision. “I had sprayed insecticide that day. Then my head started aching and I couldn’t see clearly. After that I found myself in the hospital,” Mr Adik told sources.
At least 20 farmers have died in the last month due to poisoning after spraying pesticides, some of them lethal mixtures. They skipped wearing protective gear. The first death was reported in early August. Over 600 farmers have been affected by pesticide inhalation since. With symptoms like blurred vision, nausea, skin rashes, headaches and dizziness, over 100 farmers are still recovering at the district hospital in Yavatmal. Some have lost their sight and others are in the intensive care unit or ICU in a critical state.
For Yavatmal district, about 670 kilometres from the state capital Mumbai, which already sees a high number of farmer suicides due to agrarian crisis, this has come as a big blow.