The state government on Monday — hard-pressed to come up with a panacea for the drought — stayed its eligibility criteria for compensation to the families of farmers, who have committed suicide. State revenue minister Eknath Khadse, who replied during the debate on the drought in the Assembly and the council, said a compensation of Rs1 lakh would be granted in all the cases where the victim was the head of a family. According to existing norms, only ‘certain suicides’ are eligible for compensation — when it has been proven that the act is a result of non- repayment of loan, crop losses and not personal reasons.
In 2015, 3,228 farmers committed suicide, but the state government considers only 1,841 of these cases to be eligible for compensation. “In the cases where the head of family commits suicide, we will provide compensation speedily, without scrutinising the reasons or insisting on completion of documents,’’ said Khadse.
Other relief measures include providing insurance cover and paying premium for all 1.35 crore registered farmers in the state under the newly launched Gopinath Munde Farmers Accident Insurance Scheme and staying of power bills up to 100% in drought-affected areas and loan restructuring, among others. But the opposition staged a walkout when the government did not accept its demand in both the state council and assembly for a loan waiver. This irked chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who alleged that the 15-year corruption-ridden rule of the Congress-NCP was responsible for the farmers’ plight. He said his government was not against loan waivers, shifting his stance on the subject for the first time in over a year. “We are not against the waiver, but it will be given at the right time,” he said.