With a view to framing a policy for providing financial assistance and other relief measures to check the number of farmer suicides on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, two teams comprising officials of the agriculture department and faculty members of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, were sent to the two states on Sunday.
A team headed by Kanwaljeet Singh Sodhi, agriculture department joint director, Prof Sukhdev Singh of economy and sociology department of PAU and Bathinda chief agriculture officer Rajinder Brar has left for Andhra Pradesh.
The second team headed by agriculture department joint director Balwinder Singh Sohal, Sanjay Walia of economy and sociology department of PAU and Jalandhar chief agriculture officer Swatantra Kumar Aeri has gone to Maharashtra.
The teams will remain in the respective states for three days and would hold talks with officials of the agriculture department there.
They will study the policies of the two states as how they succeeded in decreasing suicides there. The teams will be back in the state on November 6.
Both the teams will prepare a report and submit the same to senior officials in Chandigarh who will further send it to the government.
The department through the state government will submit report to Punjab and Haryana high court.
On August 8, the high court had given three months to the state government to frame a policy on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, on a petition of volunteer organisation Movement against State Repression. The organisation had sought policy for the families of farmers who had committed suicide after January 2000.
A department official said the state government has a policy to offer `2 lakh compensation to the affected families.
Detailed surveys conducted by Panjab University, Chandigarh, Punjabi University Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, for the period of 2001-2011 revealed that 4,500 farmers and farm labourers had committed suicides due to indebtedness in the state, the official added.
He said the committees under the chairmanship of respective deputy commissioners at the district level have been formulated to identify and recommend such cases to the state government for releasing required funds.
He said 3,146 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra, 2014 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,403 ended their life in Karnataka in 2013 as per the data of the National Crime Records Bureau.
When contacted, Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh said on the orders of the high court, the two teams will report about the policies adopted by Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. A new policy will be prepared before December 31 to control farm suicides in the state, he added.