The government has pumped in Rs 5,000 crore in the suicide belts of Vidarbha over the last two years. And yet, farmers continue to kill themselves. Now, a performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India explains why.
A survey, covering 41,663 farmers in 383 villages of the six districts worst hit by cotton failures in Vidarbha, was part of the CAG audit of the farmers’ packages announced by the state and Central governments in 2006. It found that 36 per cent of farmers were not even aware of the state and Central government packages.
The audit slams the government for weak monitoring, delays in payments of compensation and lack of coordination in implementing the packages.
The audit conducted between March and June 2007 highlights some glaring deficiencies. It is the first report evaluating implementation of the packages since they were announced two years back.
The CAG report says that government directives for moneylenders to free farmers’ lands were turned down by the High Court when moneylenders approached it. Neither did the government challenge the court ruling nor did it strengthen the existing laws in favour of the farmers.
A door-to-door survey in 2006 by the state showed there were 13.48 lakh distressed and 4.34 lakh very distressed farmers in these six districts. But they were not considered when benefits were handed out.
Short-term measures like helplines and rescheduling loans were ineffective for most farmers. The report also questioned long-term goals, like creating irrigation potential and subsidiary occupations for farmers.