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Only 5.34 crore farmers benefited from welfare schemes: Govt tells Supreme Court

Several states including, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, have waived of farmers’ loans in the wake of agitations by peasants.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2017 19:13 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times
Farmer suicides,Supreme Court,Farmer
Many farmers across India have committed suicide over debt and poor quality of crops due to drought conditions .(HT File Photo)

Compensating families of farmers who commit suicide is not enough, the Supreme Court said on Thursday, as it directed the government to expedite schemes meant for tackling a growing farm crisis that has hit millions of peasants.

The court’s order came while hearing a petition by an NGO, Cranti, which has highlighted rising incidents of farmer suicides, most of which are attributed to mounting debts due to crop failure or, like this year, to surplus production that has led to a crash in prices.

“Giving compensation to the family of a farmer who kills himself is not enough. You are moving but still the suicides are increasing. There are policies but everything is on paper. You must move to implementation,” a bench of Chief Justice JS Kehar and Justice YV Chandrachud told attorney general KK Venugopal.

The bench also shot down the law officer’s argument that it was not for the court to supervise the government.

“There is a motive for us to hear this (petition). We want you to soften the effect of loan on a farmer,” the bench said.

Venugopal assured the court the schemes would reach at least half of India’s farmers by the end of next year as the court agreed with the Centre that the problem cannot be tackled overnight.

“It’s a great tragedy. To reach out is a massive exercise and we need atleast a year to see the effective results of the schemes,” Venugopal said.

The law officer informed the court that out of 12 crore farmers, 5.34 crore have benefited from the schemes. This covers 30 per cent of the cropped area, he said.

Venugopal read out the schemes the NDA government has floated and called it a “multi-pronged attack to tackle” the menace.

“It is justified to seek time to implement the schemes,” the court noted in its order, saying it will review the matter after six months. The court also asked the government to consider suggestions by the petitioner’s lawyer, Colin Gosalves.

Several states including, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, have waived of farmers’ loans in the wake of agitations by peasants who are saddled with mounting debts over the years.

Last month, six people were killed when police opened fire at farmers in Madhya Pradesh, sparking a violent backlash by protesters. The farmers were demanding loan waiver and better prices for their produce.

Gonsalves gave the example of the MP deaths and said the suicides were unprecedented.

“The state did not wake up to fix the minimum support price of onions until the deaths took place,” he said.

The lawyer lauded the government for its policies but said they lacked implementation. He rebutted the government claim and cited data from a report to state only 20 per cent of the farmers were benefitted by the schemes.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 13:31 IST