Farm suicides: HC tells Uttarakhand to form farmers commission within 3 months

The bench directed the state government to form the commission under The Uttarakhand State Farmers Commission Act, 2016 and appoint its president and members

dehradun Updated: Apr 26, 2018 21:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Nainital
Farmer suicide,Uttarakhand,Naninital high court
A PIL in HC had alleged that four farmers had committed suicide in Uttarakhand last year over various reasons. (HT File)

The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday directed the state government to constitute a State Farmers Commission within three months and formulate a scheme to provide compensation or pension to the families of farmers who have committed suicide.

Disposing off a public interest litigation on alleged farmer suicides and farmer deaths in the state and lack of a policy on granting them ex-gratia, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma directed the state government to form the commission under The Uttarakhand State Farmers Commission Act, 2016.

The PIL was filed by Congress leader Ganesh Upadhyay. The petitioner had said that due to abject poverty, high levels of debt and crop failures, the farmers were committing suicide in Uttarakhand. The petitioner said that four farmers committed suicide in 2017. “The farmers have a right to live with dignity. Since the farmers are not able to repay the bank loans, they borrow money from local money lenders at exorbitant rate of interest. There is a delay on the part of government agencies in making payment to the farmers,” the petitioner said.

Disposing the PIL, the bench, through chief secretary, directed the sate government to constitute the State Farmers Commission and appoint its president and members within three months from today. The commission, the bench directed, shall start discharging the duties immediately after its constitution. It also directed the Government of India and the state government to implement the recommendations made by the National Commission on Farmers (NCF), constituted in 2004 under the chairmanship of Prof MS Swaminathan. The NCF had recommended providing minimum support price (MSP) at least three times above the average cost of production to farmers for their produce.

It also asked to formulate a scheme for providing compensation and pension to families of farmers who have committed suicide. A scheme should be framed for providing insurance cover, including weather insurance, to the farmers for their crops. The bench also directed the Reserve Bank of India to evolve a scheme in consultation with the banks, state government and stakeholders about the manner in which the agricultural loans are to be advanced and their recovery and also waiver of loans in the eventuality of suicide by the farmer.

It directed the state government to consider formulating a scheme for waiver of loans raised by small marginal farmers, at least upto Rs50,000 or in the alternative to permit them to pay the loans in instalments by reducing their rate of interest. It asked state to ensure warehouse facility for storing crops.

It also directed government of India to make suitable legislation for legalizing the MSP.

First Published: Apr 26, 2018 21:45 IST