Mumbai, April 25: In a noble move, a group of IT professionals has come together to raise funds for repaying loans of over 100 debt-ridden farmers in drought-hit Vidarbha region, notorious for farmer suicides.
The IT professionals have united under the banner of an NGO, Apulkee (sense of belongingness), with an objective to help debt and drought-ridden 121 farmers in five districts of the cotton belt. The NGO has so far raised Rs 3 lakh from people who are known to IT professionals and their circle of friends and companies.
It aims to collect Rs 85 lakh to close the loans of the identified farmers. Describing the criteria for selecting the farmers, Mayuri Dhavale, a senior associate working with Apulkee, said, "We shortlisted most affected five districts of the state and then zeroed in on marginal farmers with less than 5 acres of landholding.
Additionally, priority was given to the families affected by farmer suicides." The list was prepared after sifting through data provided by local NGOs and volunteers associated with Apulkee. Teams visited the selected farmers to study their current condition and collected 7/12 extract (a key land ownership document) along with bank and loan details. Dhavale gave district-wise break-up of beneficiary farmers and their pending loans which was Wardha (25 farmers - loan amount Rs 21,38,582), Washim (25 farmers - Rs 12,57,762), Amaravati (27 farmers - Rs 18,34,402), Yavatmal (25 farmers - Rs 12,72,104) and Akola district (19 farmers - Rs 18,62,200).
Abhijeet Falke, head of the NGO, said, "The situation (in Vidarbha) is grave and it cannot be solved by any one organisation, individual, NGO or government body. Only a collaborative movement will give some relief and therefore we have launched a small initiative seeking (financial) support from our personal contacts."
"The amount raised will be used only for loan closure and directly given to the banks. No cash amount will be handed over to the farmers. The loan closure report will be shared with all the companies and individuals who contribute towards the cause and uploaded on the website apulkee.org," said Falke, who himself runs an IT company in Pune.
The NGO also plans to seek funds from its foreign-based volunteers and other companies if the target from Indian sources is not met.