Even though the Punjab government has announced fresh ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh to the families of debt-ridden farmers who have committed suicides, it has failed to compensate 2,240 such families whose names were found in the government survey.
The government, which earlier had promised to give compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased farmers recorded during 2012 survey, denied ex-gratia on the ground that such families could not be compensated since they were not suited as per compensatory policy.
The government viewed that there might be some other reasons behind the farmers committing suicide as there was no loan pending against the deceased. Ironically, the government has failed to take note of economic condition of the farmers at the time they committed suicide.
It should be mentioned that in their survey report, three of the state universities-Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar- had reported 6,926 cases of farmers' suicide from 2000 to 2011. The survey estimated that out of total cases, 3,954 were of farmers, while 2,972 of farm labourers. Around 3,000 farmers reportedly committed suicide in four districts, including Sangrur, Mansa, Barnala and Bathinda.
As per available information, the government has released the amount of around Rs 99 crore to compensate around 4,686 families.
The government had constituted a three-member team, including deputy commissioner, senior superintendent of police and agriculture officer of the district headquarters concerned to evaluate the cases of 2,240 families earlier this year. However, not even a single district has managed to submit its report till date.
Meanwhile,A delegation of farmers also met chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday to take up the matter with him.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) said the most of the left out families were those of farm labourers who committed suicide over the years. "Indebtedness can't be always a reason behind suicide, as deplorable economic conditions of farmers and labourers is another major reason. How can the government ignore economic factors while deciding as to whom they are going to compensate?" Kokri said.
He added that the most of farm labourers were once farmers who sold out their land to pay their loans and were forced to work in the fields to make the both ends meet. "Moreover, if the government was not interested in compensating these families, then what was point of including these families during the survey," he questioned.
Agriculture minister Tota Singh said though only debt ridden families were to be compensated, directions have been passed to the deputy commissioners of all district headquarters to submit factual report within month. "The decision of whether to compensate these families or not will be taken once the agriculture department receives status report from the deputy commissioners concerned," Singh said.