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HindustanTimes Tue,22 Jul 2014

Farmer suicides;State govt fails to compensate all affected families

Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, September 05, 2013
First Published: 23:01 IST(5/9/2013) | Last Updated: 23:10 IST(5/9/2013)

As the state government has ordered a fresh survey to identify the number of farmers in the state who had committed suicide owing to debt from 2010 till now, the government is yet to compensate the families identified in the earlier survey.

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As the blame game is on, the revenue department says the finance department is supposed to release the funds while the latter has "other important issues" to address.

A study conducted in 2011 by Punjabi University, Punjab Agricultural University and Guru Nanak Dev University had found that 4,685 farmers committed suicide between 2000 and 2011.

In November 2012, the SAD-BJP government decided to make ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of such farmers. Later, the cash-strapped government cut the compensation into half and it was decided to cover the cases till the year 2006, covering only 2,886 families.

Government records show that so far compensation has reached 2,360 families, half the number of families identified in the survey.

Figures procured from government sources show that in Barnala, Bathinda, Mansa and Sangrur districts, which had the highest number of suicides, the funds sent to the districts had not been completely distributed.
According to the survey, 532 farmers committed suicide in Barnala, 827 in Bathinda, 1,013 in Mansa and 1,132 in Sangrur.

Of Rs. 2.95 crore sent to Barnala district, the affected families received Rs. 2.45 crore; of Rs. 6.16 crore sent to Bathinda, Rs. 5.11 crore was distributed; of Rs. 5.47 crore sent to Mansa, Rs. 4.57 crore was distributed; and of Rs. 8.55 crore sent to Sangrur, Rs. 7 crore was distributed among the affected families.

Giving reasons for this, Sangrur deputy commissioner Kumar Rahul said that in some cases the issue of inheritance cropped up. "The administration wants to disburse compensation to the rightful claimants, and we are in process of identifying them in the pending cases," he added.

The government has made a fresh allocation of Rs. 66 crore in the current year's budget for compensating the families.

"A requisition was sent to the finance department for release of the funds and we hope to get the funds soon," said financial commissioner revenue NS Kang. While the officials of the finance department wanted more time to figure out the stage at which the file had reached.

Inderjeet Singh Jaijee of Movement Against State Repression, who has carried out independent studies of farmer suicides in the state, called the entire exercise by the state government as inappropriate.

"The state government still doesn't have the true picture of the number of suicides. The survey work was divided among three universities. One university conducted survey till 2008 and another till 2011," he said. As per government records, for Bathinda and Sangrur districts, which has a high incidence of farmer suicide, the study was conducted till 2008.

22% came back as labourers

Dr Sukhpal Singh from the economics department of Punjab Agricultural University said the situation was alarming as of the two lakh farmers who left farming between 1991 and 2005, 44,000 had returned to farms as labourers. He said that with the increase in input costs the net income from farming had gone down and small and marginal farmers were getting eliminated.


 

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