A farmer from Kanwar village in Bargarh district tried to end his life in full public view by consuming “poison”, when hundreds of farmers, in the presence of some political leaders, were protesting in front of the collector’s office on Thursday. Akrura Bisi (50) was among the farmers who suffered losses to their crops due to a recent hailstorm and were demonstrating in support of their demand for adequate compensation.

He delivered a speech and before anyone could realise took out what appeared to be a bottle of pesticide and consumed the content.

Taken by surprise, the people around him rushed him to a hospital in Burla where he is under treatment. “He is in the intensive care unit,” said a doctor, noting that his condition was serious.

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Farmers of the district, supported by members of different political parties, were holding a protest meeting in front of the collector’s office in Bargarh, demanding adequate compensation for the crop loss they had suffered due to a hailstorm a few days ago.

Bisi was one of them.

Bargarh District Collector Indramani Tripathi rushed to the Burla hospital to enquire about the farmer’s condition and sanctioned Rs 20,000 for his immediate medical expenses.

BJD MLA Debesh Acharya also rushed to the hospital and said the expenses incurred on his treatment would be borne by the state government.

While the news of suicide attempt by a distressed farmer at Bargarh spread like wildfire, reports trickled in from other districts too about crop damage caused by hailstorms.

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Farmer association leaders said the government needed to promptly assess the situation and announce compensation to provide relief to farmers failing which distressed farmers would either take to the streets or end their lives.

Unseasonal showers and hailstorm have been occurring intermittently over the last fortnight in different parts of the state.

At least three persons died and several others sustained injuries in a northwester that hit six districts of Odisha, an official said on Thursday.

At least three persons died and several others sustained injuries in a nor’wester that hit six districts of Odisha, an official said on Thursday.

Deputy Relief Commissioner Prabhat Ranjan Mohapatra said while two persons were killed after tree branches fell on them in Balasore and Bargarh districts during the rain, another person was killed in a wall collapse in Mayurbhanj district in the squall on Wednesday night.

A report from Malkangiri district said that three persons were injured in the nor’wester accompanied by heavy rain, he said.

He said the government had received preliminary reports from six districts — Bargarh, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Balasore, Sonepur and Mayurbhanj — so far on the impact of unseasonal rain.

“Major damage to crops and houses have been reported in the six districts and Bargarh remains the worst hit,” said the official.

The government has provided a compensation amount of Rs 5.31 lakh to the families for construction of houses in Mayurbhanj district.

Other districts had been asked to submit reports on major damages due to the unseasonal rain, he added.

“The crop loss assessment has not been done yet as it is just the initial report,” Mahapatra added.

According to preliminary reports, in all 456 people died due to lightning during 2017-18.

Lightning has become a major disaster in the state that claims more than 400 human lives on an average every year.

In comparison to other natural calamities that cause more economic losses, the death toll due to lightning is much higher in Odisha. The loss of 456 lives in 2017-18 is a 15 per cent increase over that of the last year, according to an official.

(With IANS)