Jagatsinghpur, December 20 (LocalWire): Exorbitant rate of interest charged by private moneylenders in rural areas of Jagatsinghpur district has become a matter of serious concern among the local people, with over 10 people committing suicide during the last four years as they were unable to return the amount they had borrowed and were living in pathetic condition.
In a recent incident, Sita Mali from Ajagarbedi under the Erasama police limit committed suicide on Wednesday by hanging herself after she failed to pay the amount she had borrowed from a local moneylender.
She had availed a loan Rs 40,000 for prawn cultivation and other crops and her total outstanding, including interest, had touched Rs one lakh and when the moneylender threatened her of dare consequence if she did not return the amount, she committed suicide.
While her husband was away on the day, her father Pravas Mandal of Kharnasi village lodged an FIR in Erasama police station which is now investigating the matter.
According to reports, the poor, including local farmers face difficulties in availing loans from cooperative and nationalised banks for purposes like daughter’s marriage, higher studies, cultivation, and purchasing of vehicles and other assets, and hence they fall prey to the private money lenders.
These moneylenders take advantage of the needs of the locals and their inability to get loans from other sources, harassing and humiliating the poverty-stricken people by demanding an exorbitant rate of interest.
Mali who committed suicide on Wednesday is not alone to succumb to the pressure.
Suryakant Khuntia from Kansa under Jagatsinghpur police station had borrowed Rs one lakh from a private finance company for purchasing a tractor and committed to paying Rs 30,000 per month towards installment to repay the loan.
However, he could not return the amount on time and was threatened by the company henchmen of dire consequences. A harried Khuntia committed suicide by taking poison.
Similarly, in 2015, a 55-year old farmer Rabindra Muduli from village Bariamula under Balikuda police limit had borrowed Rs 80,000 from a private money lender and Rs 10,000 from a Self Help Group for cucumber cultivation on six decimal lands, which was completely destroyed due to scanty rain forcing him to commit suicide by taking poison.
In many cases, the private moneylenders allegedly charge a whopping 10 to 12 per cent interest per month, while there are others who keep different documents as surety from the customers, including property documents, vehicles, signed blank cheques, bond papers and even ATM cards.
Not only do they collect a huge amount as interest from the farmers, but there have also been cases where the moneylenders have taken over the properties and other assets leading conflict and suicide by many.