The Madras high court on Thursday asked the Tamil Nadu government to file an affidavit on the steps it has taken to curb farmer suicides in the state. The court has given four weeks' time for the state government to file the affidavit. The HC's directive to the government follows a petition moved by K K Ramesh, the managing trustee of Tamil Nadu Centre for PILs. Ramesh had petitioned the Madras HC seeking directions for steps to arrest suicides of farmers and also to set up an expert committee to create awareness among farmers about latest technology in the agriculture sector.
The Madras HC direction comes a day after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam acknowledged the prevailing situation in the state and announced sops for farmers. He, however, did not declare the state drought-hit. "Northeast monsoon usually brings 440 mm of rainfall to Tamil Nadu, however, only 163.8 mm of rain was received. Of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu, 21 had a deficiency of 60 per cent," O Panneerselvam said. Reports in Tamil Nadu claim that over 12 farmers have died in the last 2 months due to crop failure. Farmers of Tamil Nadu lost their summer crop due to Cauvery water sharing dispute with neighbouring Karnataka while their winter crop withered due to poor monsoon.
Many political observers believe that the Tamil Nadu government is busy stabilising itself instead of declaring a drought situation in the state. The court's direction comes on the same day of centre granting Rs 1,700 crore drought relief to neighbouring Karnataka that has already been declared drought-hit.