Bargarh (Odisha), May 3 (PTI) A farmer today tried to commit suicide by consuming pesticide in front of Bargarh district collector’s office here while taking part in a protest, officials said.

The 55-year-old farmer had taken a loan of Rs 30,000 and his standing crop was damaged in a hailstorm on April 30, villagers said.

Akrura Bishi of Kanbar village in Barpali block came here to take part in a dharna of farmers who were demanding compensation for crop loss due to the unseasonal rain and hailstorm, officials said.

After Akrura drank pesticide, other farmers present there took him to the district headquarters hospital here.

Akrura was later shifted to the Veer Sunrendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR) at Burla in neighbouring Sambalpur district, officials said.

District Collector Indramani Tripathy said, “The suicide attempt took place before I went to meet them. It is an unfortunate incident.” Appealing to farmers to refrain from taking such steps, he said the state government was attentive to their needs and “we are taking measures so that they get genuine compensation for the crop loss”.

Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy said, “I will order an inquiry into the farmer’s attempt to commit suicide. The government is sympathetic towards affected farmers.” Villagers said Akrura had grown paddy over 2 acres of land. While he owned half an acre, he had taken 1.5 acre on lease. He had also taken a loan of around Rs 30,000 for the cultivation from private lenders but the crop was damaged due to the hailstorm.

“Akrura suddenly consumed pesticide there. We were not aware that he had come carrying poison,” said Pahalu Bhoi, a farmer from Akrura’s village.

The district collector said, “The farmers had come here on May 1 and demanded compensation for crop loss.” “The revenue and agriculture officials are visiting the fields and making assessment of the loss. Some farmers had come demanding compensation today also for the hailstorm,” he said.

Official sources said the hailstorm affected crop in 17,614 hectare of land in five blocks — Barpali, Bargarh, Bheden, Bhatli and Bijepur — in Bargarh district.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.