Killing fields: No end to farmers’ suicide

By: Maitreyee Boruah
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Bengaluru, May 6: The agriculture sector in the country is reeling under severe crisis. Due to the ongoing drought situation in 10 states, there is a rise in the number of farmer suicide cases in the country. As many as 116 farmers have committed suicide due to agrarian reasons till March 2016. The maximum cases were reported in Maharashtra, followed by Punjab and Telangana.

"More than 2,000 farmers' suicide cases were reported due to agrarian reasons in 2015 with highest number of 1,841 cases in Maharashtra alone," said the minister of state for agriculture Mohanbhai Kundariya in the Lok Sabha recently.


As per the data, 57 cases of farmers' suicides were reported in Maharashtra on February 29 this year, while 56 farm labourers' suicide cases in Punjab were registered on March 11. In Telangana, there were three cases, Kundariya said in a written reply to the Lower House.

In total, 116 farmers and labourers committed suicide in last three months due to agrarian reasons, the data showed.

[Read: India least bothered about farmer deaths, but croons over Choppergate, B-town scandals ]

According to Kundariya, the 10 states reeling under drought are Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh , Maharashtra , Odisha , Telangana , Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh , Jharkhand and Rajasthan.

Recently, eminent journalist and Magsaysay awardee P Sainath said data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) regarding farmer suicides in the country was "diluted" and did not present a true picture of the plight of farmers.


"In most of the states, land is in the name of the male member. As a consequence, suicides committed by farm women, who perform between 60 and 67 per cent of the work, have not been included in the column for farmer suicides, but in the ‘others' column," said Sainath.

Asked if the government has taken steps to mitigate the impact of drought on farmers and prevent them from committing suicide, the minister said it has approved Rs 12,773.34 crore relief package to 10 states affected by drought during kharif (summer) season of 2015-16 crop year (July-June).

[Read: Maha shocker! Unable to feed children, woman farmer sets herself ablaze ]

Besides relief package, the Centre has taken other measures to deal with the situation of drought including implementation of diesel/seed subsidy and relaxed norms under MGNREGA to provide additional employment of 50 days over and above 100 days per household in areas affected by natural calamities, the minister said.
"So far, a sum of Rs 18,408.98 crore has been released during 2015-16, to the aforesaid 10 drought-hit states under MGNREGA," Kundariya added.

[Read: 184 farmers commit suicide in Karnataka in last 3 months: Govt ]

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