The Punjab government has started distributing compensation to the families of farmers who had committed suicides between April 2013 and December 2015, bringing some respite to the distressed families.
The state government has shortlisted the families of 55 farmers who had committed suicide within the specified period and 25 of them are from Bathinda district alone.
The Bathinda administration has been provided a sum of Rs 58 lakh by the government for distribution among the aggrieved families.
On Saturday, cabinet ministers Sikander Singh Malooka and Janmeja Singh Sekhon distributed a compensation of Rs 28 lakh among 12 affected families - nine from Rampura and three from Maur constituencies.
As per the government policy, the families of farmers who committed suicide before July 22, 2015, will get Rs 2 lakh, while a compensation of Rs 3 lakh will be given for the suicide cases reported after that.
Of the 25 farm suicide cases in Bathinda, 17 families are eligible Rs 2-lakh compensation and eight will get Rs 3 lakh. The aggrieved families have been making rounds of government offices to get the compensation, in some cases for more than two years. The district-level committee led by deputy commissioner that was entrusted with the responsibility of identifying and listing the beneficiaries took too much time to do the job.
“Nothing will bring back our loved ones. The compensation of Rs 3 lakh will help to some extent. It will be used for paying the loan and on children’s education,” said family members of Sukmandar Singh (45), who had committed suicide on October 4 last year after his cotton crop failed.
The family claimed that Sukmandar was under a debt of Rs 2.5 lakh, which he had taken from a commission agent and an agriculture society.
Cabinet minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon said the state government had stood by the farming fraternity through the thick and thin. “The recent decision of the government to give relief to the families of suicide victims immediate will surely go a long way in mitigating their sufferings,” Sekhon said.
Bathinda deputy Commissioner Basant Garg said the compensation amount had already been provided to the sub-divisional magistrates for distribution. “Instructions have been passed to distribute the compensation to the families at the earliest,” Garg said.
Meanwhile, Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugarahan) questioned list of affected families prepared by the state government. “The number of suicide cases is much more than the government record. Moreover, we have failed to understand on what basis the district committees are shortlisting the beneficiaries,” Kokri said.
The three-member committees entrusted with the task of shortlisting the beneficiaries comprise deputy commissioner, senior superintendent of police and agriculture officer of the respective district.
Rs 2 lakh for families of farmers who committed suicide before July 22, 2015
Rs 3 lakh for suicide cases reported after July 22, 2015