Chandigarh, May 18: After Captain Amarinder Singh took charge of the Punjab government on May 16, 37 farmers committed suicides, said reports. The reason behind the suicides was believed to be heavy debt burden. According to reports, the Punjab government is trying to waive off farmers loans in the upcoming budget session on June 15.
However, farmer organisations, claim more than 50 farmers have committed suicides in two months. As per a survey by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar from 2000 to 2010, a total of 6,926 farm suicides were recorded in the state.
On the other hand, farmer organisations have claimed that more than 50 farmers had taken the extreme steps in just two months. The Punjab Agriculture University' in Ludhiana, Punjabi University in Patiala and Amritsar's Guru Nanak Dev University's survey revealed that a total of 6,926 farmers ended lives during 2000 to 2010. Out of 6,926 deaths, 3,954 were of farmers and remaining were farm labourers.
In last two months, Mansa Bathinda and Barnala districts of Malwa region have recorded the highest number of suicides. Eight farmers suicides were reported in Mansa and Bathinda each while six of such cases were reported in Barnala.
Captian Amarinder Singh during his campaigns for Punjab Assembly Elections had asked the farmers not to end their lives and wait for his government to come into the power.
He had raised slogans like 'Karja kurki khatam, fasal di poori rakam' (debt, land auction will stop, farmers to get full payment of crop). Reacting to the slogan in view of farmers suicides in the state former minister Sikandar Singh Maluka said that the slogans didn't work.
Central University Punjab's eminent agriculture economist and chancellor Sardara Singh Johi said that all suicides are not debt-ridden but the diversion of money for marriages in the family or may be spending on purchasing vehicles, things with no return value mainly lead to the debts which lead to suicides of farmers.
He added that the state government should form settlement panels in every district to tackle such situations, adding that this way the government can focus on the farmer's suicides due to debt. He also said that the farmers should stop spending a huge amount of money unnecessarily. Sukhdev Singh Kori, the general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan and Surjit Singh Phool, president of Krantikari Kisan Union said that the Congress government had failed so far to provide solace to the bereaved families.
In the meanwhile, Satish Chandra, the additional chief secretary(development), administrative agriculture in-charge and allies sector said that the government is looking to address the farm debt waiver, adding that an expert committee is looking at steps to pull the indebted farmers out of financial crisis. The first committee meeting will be held next week, he added.
Responding on the framer's suicides in the state, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said that the government is committed to providing relief to farmers as promised during the campaigns before the elections, adding that a team of experts are finding ways to provide relief to farmers suffering from debts.