116 farmers committed suicide in 2016; 10 states reeling under drought

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 28, 2016 12:20 IST
Decades of groundwater abuse, populist water policies and poor monsoons have turned vast swaths of central and western India into a dust bowl, driving distressed farmers to suicide. (AP)

As many as 116 farmers have committed suicide due to agrarian reasons so far in 2016, with maximum cases reported in Maharashtra, followed by Punjab and Telangana, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.

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, as per the data placed before Lok Sabha by minister of state for agriculture Mohanbhai Kundariya.

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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.

File photo of a woman along with her son walking to get water from a communal tube well at Raichi Wadi village, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north-east of Mumbai. (AP)

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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).

Karnataka , Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh , Maharashtra , Odisha , Telangana , Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh , Jharkhand and Rajasthan are reeling under drought.

In a separate reply, the minister said the rabi crops including wheat were affected in 15.06 lakh hectare due to unfavourable weather conditions in Rajasthan and Haryana.

Even the Karnataka government reported drought impact on rabi (winter) crops in 22.33 lakh hectare and had sought a central assistance of Rs 1,417.14 crore, he said.

File photo of children carrying water for use at home at Panch Amber village, 140 kilometers (87 miles) north-east of Mumbai. (AP)

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.

Also Read | In drought-hit western Maharashtra, children forced to live as orphans

Asked if the government has taken steps to help the debt-ridden farmers and put a check on private money lenders, the minister said farmers are indebted due to both institutional and non-institutional sources of credit.

To bring more farmers within the institutional fold, the government is providing short-term crop loans and medium/long term loan to farmers.

Small farmers have no other option then sell their cattle as there is scarcity of water in Latur region in Maharashtra. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)

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Short-term crop loan of Rs 3 lakh is provided to farmers at an interest rate of 7% per annum and prompt re-payers are getting the benefit of 3% interest subvention, he said.

The benefit of interest subvention scheme has been extended to small and marginal farmers having Kisan Credit Card for up to six months post harvest on the same rate as available to crop loan against negotiable warehouse receipt for keeping their produce in warehouses, he added.

The limit for collateral free farm loan has been increased from Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 1,00,000, the minister said.

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