Three state universities - Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana; Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar; and Punjabi University, Patiala – are all set to conduct a survey on farmer suicides in Punjab since 2011.
The universities recently received a letter from the state government regarding the grant of Rs 10 lakh each. The survey will begin once the funds are released.
Earlier, such a survey was conducted by the economics departments of these universities, covering the period between 2000 and March 2011. Each university had received an overall grant of about Rs 30 lakh apiece.
Talking to HT, Sukhpal Singh, head of the economics and sociology department, PAU, said, “We had been awaiting funds since 2011 to continue with the survey. Now, the grant will give us a chance to cover the remaining years and find out if debt is the only reason for the ongoing suicides or there are other factors too.”
Inderjit Singh, head of the economics department, Punjabi University, said, “Suicides due to debts might be getting reported these days, but if we look closely, there can be many reasons for the extreme step. In some cases, it may not be related to any agricultural issue and could be a personal dispute. This is what we will explore more this time.”
Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, GNDU registrar and former head of the economics department, will head the survey team on behalf of the Amritsar university. He said Rs 3-4 lakh had been left from the previous survey’s budget, adding that he had already completed the survey in Tarn Taran district in the past few months and had begun with Amritsar district.
“We will hold a meeting of the three universities to plan the course of action. The government has said that in case we need more funds, these would be provided,” said Dhillon.
As per the earlier survey, 630 farmers committed suicide every year, a majority of them due to the debt burden.
Agriculture minister Jathedar Tota Singh said, “Even as the survey will begin soon, farmers must understand that committing suicide is no solution. What about the family they leave behind? It is time to concentrate on savings and draw inspiration from farmers who sail in the same boat but do not end up under debt.”
Districts to be covered
Punjabi University: Fatehgarh Sahib, Mohali, Faridkot, Muktsar, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and Patiala
GNDU: Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Pathankot, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur and Nawanshahr
PAU: Moga, Ludhiana, Barnala, Bathinda, Sangrur and Mansa