Friday, September 11, 2009

18% Vidarbha farmer suicides in 2009 genuine, says govt-Times Of India Pune

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18% Vidarbha farmer suicides in 2009 genuine, says govt

AMRAVATI: The spate of farmer suicides is continuing in Vidarbha region. Hundreds of farmers have ended their lives this year but few have proved to be eligible to be counted as genuine cases, resulting in their kin not getting compensation or other benefits from the government. Activists claimed that the officials are merely following the orders from the chief minister's office to keep farmer suicide numbers as low as possible.

Though the situation has improved after implementation of the packages, the numbers are still worrying. In year 2009, till July 31, around 466 farmers in six suicide prone districts committed suicide. But only 86 - roughly 18.45% - were considered eligible for compensation which government offers to the next of kin. Ninety-six cases are under probe and 284 cases have been rejected by government. From 2001 to July 31 this year, 5,503 farmers committed suicide out of which 2,030 cases were found eligible for benefits of the government while 3,377 were non eligible and 96 are under investigation.

Sources from the commissionerate stated that a compensation of Rs 1 lakh is provided to eligible beneficiaries of which Rs 30,000 paid in cash while Rs 70,000 deposited in the account of the farmer. Only those cases in which farmers committed suicide due to in indebtedness, excess follow up by a bank or moneylender for repayments and low yield are considered to be eligible for the compensation. The district collector heads a committee which comprises officials of the departments concerned and NGO representatives to review farmer suicide cases. Talathi of the village does the enquiry of the farmers on various grounds and then eligibility of the beneficiary is decided.

Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, while talking to TOI, claimed that Chief Minister Ashok Chavan himself had told officials not to show more number of beneficiaries on record and officials are following the orders. Tiwari also said that the administration has put forth the flimsy reasons to reject the case. "The administration is insensitive towards the problems of the farmers," he said. The government issued a GR regarding non-eligible beneficiaries in February this year in which it was stated that the benefits of the Antyodaya Scheme should be extended to the widows of farmers who were not considered eligible for ex-gratia. "Except Yavatmal district, this scheme is not being implemented properly," said Tiwari.

Many hurdles for Wardha's farmer suicide cases

Although farmer suicides continue to take place in Wardha, very few cases are proved genuine. In the last eight years from 2001 to August 2009, the total number of suicide cases in Wardha was 512, out of which only 179 have been considered as genuine cases and were thus eligible to get the benefits. Eleven cases out of 512 are still under probe. Out of 512 cases, 393 have been categorized as relatives of the farmers while 119 is the number of direct farmers. Since January 1 to Aug 31 this year, 46 farmers are reported to have committed suicide, out of which only six have been recognized as genuine and 11 cases are under consideration.

"In many cases, it is the wife of the farmer who commits suicide. In such situations, it is not considered as a genuine case because no agriculture land is found registered in the name of the deceased," says a social worker who works for the welfare of the farmers.

The number of farmer suicide cases in Wardha have been rising steadily over the years. The numbers of the cases in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 were 3, 24, 14, 29, 26 respectively while it dramatically increased in the years of 2006, 2007, 2008, with 154, 128, 88 respectively. In 2009 until August, 46 cases have been recorded.

The mammoth loan waiver scheme has also not made much of an impact in Vidarbha. Of the Rs 71,000 crore sanctioned for loan waiver of farmers in India, Rs 13- to Rs 14,000 crore were meant for Maharashtra. However, less than Rs 3,000 crore were earmarked for Vidarbha farmers, say sources.


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