Farmers suicides go on despite aid package

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 21 2008, 03:56am hrs
Despite the governments best efforts to address the issue of farmers suicides, the problems of crop failure, indebtedness, drought and socio-economic insecurity continue to persist. According to official figures, as many 858 farmers have ended their life during the year, including in those districts where the Rs 16,979-crore rehabilitation package announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is being implemented. Maharashtra still tops the list of states with the highest number of farmers suicides in 2008. As many as 573 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra till September 2008. One hundred and twelve farmers have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh, 152 in Karnataka and 21 in Gujarat during 2008..

Although minister of state for agriculture Kantilal Bhuria said in a written reply to Parliament on Friday that no report of suicide was received from the states on the number of farmers who have taken their lives after implementation of the Centre's Rs 72,000- crore farm-loan waiver and debt relief package, experts believe that the suicides still remain to be a pertinent issue.

In Andhra Pradesh, out of the 112 cases of farmers suicides reported till October 2008, 110 have been in districts where the Rs 16,979-crore Prime Ministers rehabilitation package has been implemented. In Karnataka, 59 deaths out the total of 152 were reported from districts where the package was being implemented. In Maharashtra, 573 deaths have been reported from districts where PMs package is in operation, while no such figure is available for Kerala, where the total cases of farmers suicides this year stood at 64.

Meanwhile, Bhuria said that the Centre's farm loan waiver scheme had benefited over 30 million small and marginal farmers and 6.7 million other farmers. The final figures, he added, would be available after the completion of the statutory audit of lending institutions. He said that the government had already released Rs 25,000 crore to the RBI for distribution by banks for farm loans and debt waivers, of which Rs 17,500 crore has been given to the cooperative banks and regional rural banks, while the remaining has been released for scheduled commercial banks, urban cooperative banks and local area banks.

Finance minister P Chidambaram, while presenting the Budget 2008-09, had announced a whopping Rs 66,000-crore package for the farming community by waiving loans of small and marginal farmers, which was later scaled up to around 72,000 crore after including more beneficiaries.