farmers india
farmers indiaReuters

A  29-year-old farmer set himself on fire on the intervening night of May 31 and June 1 in the Erravalli village of the Medak district of Telangana fearing he would lose his agricultural field if the Komuravelli Mallanna Sagar reservoir was built, the Hindu reported. He succumbed to his injuries on Monday morning.

The farmer, Nayini Karunakar, was admitted to a hospital in Gajwel from where he was shifted to Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, where he died. He had set himself on fire after his wife raised questions about their future if the reservoir was built and their village was submerged. Several villages would be inundated if the proposed Komuravelli Mallanna Sagar reservoir is built.

"What will our fate be? How are you going to take care of us when the entire village is going to get submerged? How are you going to get our children married?" Karunakar's wife Bharathi had reportedly asked him on May 31. He is survived by her and their two daughters, four-year-old Teja and seven-year-old Kavya.

Karunakar and his brother N Bhaskar together had four acres of agricultural land in the village. 

"Once the land was handed over to the government, we could not purchase similar land outside the village and were not sure how to plan our future. This was what my sister-in-law asked Karunakar. He could not answer the questions, and before our eyes he immolated himself," Bhaskar said.

Erravalli vice-president K Shiva Kumar said the arguments within the families of farmers regarding their land and future have "become routine as the future seems bleak."

While Karunakar's family claimed he committed suicide due to fear for his land, Kuknoorpally Sub-Inspector V Ramakrishna Reddy said he killed himself because of disputes in the family. However, Shiva Kumar said this was not the case and Karunakar's suicide was linked with the construction of the proposed irrigation project.

The Telangana government would acquire 22,000 acres of land for the project, which would affect at least 14 villages, the News Minute reported. Some of the villages that would be submerged because of the reservoir are Etigadda-Kishtapur, Vemulghat, Pallepahad, Singaram and Erravalli. The villagers have held several protests against the project.