The state has planned a new relief package worth Rs 7,262 crore to tackle farmers' suicides. The government will ask the Centre for funds.
The state It has also decided to review the claims made by farmers’ families, especially the claims rejected between 2008 and 2010.
This is the third relief package for farmers. The first was in 2005 for Rs 1,985 crore and the second was a Rs 3,750-crore package announced by the Prime Minister in 2006.
“We want to extend more benefits to farmers and their families in the six suicide-prone districts of Vidarbha to stop them from taking these steps,” Revenue Minister Narayan Rane said in the legislative Council on Friday. “The Centre will tell us about the status of the relief package in three months. If they cannot give us the whole amount, the state will contribute the balance.”
The state government faced criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Opposition for poor implementation of these packages. There were allegations of corruption and that the aid did not reach deserving beneficiaries.
Suicides also continued – 1,985 suicides were recorded in 2007, 1,906 in 2008 and 1,560 in 2009. Rane was responding to a question raised by Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Council, Ramdas Kadam. Kadam asked why the state has yet not implemented the recommendations made by the Narendra Jadhav committee.
The committee was constituted in 2007 to ascertain the reasons behind farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha farmers’ suicide and the impact of the PM’s relief package announced in 2006.
“There were recommendations like giving free fertilisers, a separate mission to look after cotton machinery and even giving 25 kg grain free to farmers’ families every year. If these recommendations were implemented then further suicides could be averted,” said Kadam.
Leader of Opposition, Pandurang Phundkar, pointed out that only a third of the families who had applied for compensation got it. He said the meetings at the district level took place very intermittently.
Minister of State for Revenue, Prakash Solanke, told the House that many applications for aid were rejected because the farmers had accrued debts due to accidents, illnesses, infertile land, loans from banks and weddings in the family. “If the Opposition leader thinks there is some problem in the way the rejections took place, then we will review the cases between 2008 and 2010,” Rane said.