Villagers at Sagarpali
in Lakhanpur block said Gourhari Patra (48) died after consuming poison on Sunday because
crop loss had added to his financial burden.
Neighbours took him to the health centre at Laknanpur, where he was declared dead. Police registered a case of unnatural death but were unable to recover the body because villagers blocked NH-200 demanding compensation. The blockade was lifted after revenue officials assured the villagers of proper compensation to the farmer's family.
"We recovered the body in the evening after villagers called off their agitation on an assurance from revenue officials. We handed over the body to his family after post-mortem on Monday," a police officer of Jharsuguda district said.
Sources said, low rainfail coupled with invasion by locusts caused heavy crop damage in different parts of western Orissa. Jharsuguda's Lakhanpur block was one of the worst affected areas and farmers had apprised the government of the situation. "But neither the government nor the district administration paid heed to our request," a villager Narayan Majhi said.
The deceased had taken an agriculture loan of Rs 20,000 from Bhaurkhol cooperative society and another few thousands from villagers. He had assured to repay these loans after harvesting. But he sustained a huge loss due to crop damage. The district administration has directed an official to inquire into the death and submit a report. "Action would be taken once I get the report," collector (Jharsuguda) D Dash said.