Se­cur­ing pes­ti­cides, sav­ing farm­ers’ lives

Gu­jarat Opts For Lock­ers To Re­duce Sui­cides

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Parth.Shas­[email protected] times­group.com

Ahmed­abad: Gulp­ing pes­ti­cide to end one’s life will no longer be handy for dis­tressed farm­ers. In 54 vil­lages in Mehsana district, which is home to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s birth­place, farm in­sec­ti­cides will be stored in vil­lage of­fices and it will take two per­sons to un­lock this stock.

On World Men­tal Health Day on Thurs­day, swanky stor­age units, which con­sti­tute com­mu­nity pes­ti­cide lock­ers, ar­rived at these vil­lage of­fices. Sev­eral farm­ers thronged to have a dekko at these units which, like bank lock­ers, can be opened only when the farmer and the vil­lage of­fi­cer turn the key to­gether.

In one vil­lage, over 200-250 locker units are in­stalled. These are part of Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion and Im­ple­men­ta­tion Re­search Ini­tia­tive (SPIRIT), a joint move started by the state gov­ern­ment along with Punebased Cen­tre for Men­tal Health Law & Pol­icy, Chen­naibased NGO Sneha, US-based Na­tional In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health and World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO).

Am­rut De­sai, sarpanch of Vadu vil­lage, said in past few years, a cou­ple of farm­ers had ended their lives drink­ing pes­ti­cide they used in their farms.

“With pes­ti­cide stock in lock­ers, lack of ac­cess would hope­fully prove as a de­ter­rent for farm­ers who con­sti­tute 50% of the vil­lage’s 5,000 pop­u­la­tion from tak­ing any ex­treme step,” De­sai said.

Dr Ajay Chauhan, su­per­in­ten­dent of Ahmed­abad­based Gov­ern­ment Hos­pi­tal for Men­tal Health and co­or­di­na­tor for SPIRIT project, said In­dia had recorded 23,930 sui­cides in 2015 where the vic­tims had con­sumed pes­ti­cide/in­sec­ti­cide to end their lives.

“Gu­jarat was sev­enth with 1,983 per­sons, in­clud­ing 707 women, com­mit­ting sui­cide by drink­ing pes­ti­cide. The model adopts the suc­cess­ful Tamil Nadu ini­tia­tive by NGO Sneha. Mehsana has been se­lected for the pi­lot project,” said Dr Chauhan. He likened lock­ers as ru­ral equiv­a­lent of grilles fixed on bridges of Sabar­mati River in Ahmed­abad to de­ter peo­ple from jump­ing off the bridges.

The newly-in­stalled lock­ers at Vadu vil­lage in Mehsana district

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