Govt relief has failed to prevent suicides: HC
State Gets 4 Weeks’ Time To Evolve Alternative Steps To Handle Crisis
Vaibhav Ganjapure | TNN
Nagpur: In a major embarrassment to the state government over the contentious issue of farmers’ suicide, the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Thursday came down heavily on the government saying that existing schemes, including the special relief package, had actually “failed to stem the farmers’ suicide”.
Expressing disappointment over the government’s attitude, a division bench comprising justices Dilip Sinha and Bhushan Dharmadhikari also asked the government to take the issue “seriously” and evolve alternate methods to provide a long lasting solution. The court gave the government four weeks’ time for it.
Stressing on the need for change in crop pattern to prevent occurrences of crop failure, the court suggested that the government undertake proper planning for implementation of the relief package and rope in management experts to do the same.
In its interim order, the court said, “No doubt true efforts are being made by the state government to tackle the issue of suicide by cotton-growing farmers in the six districts of Vidarbha. However, waiver of loans and evolving of methodology and schemes by itself, in our view, would not provide a long lasting solution to eradicate the serious issue.”
The court added: “We’ve informed additional government pleader Bharti Dangre about other methods that the state government is expected to look into for the purpose of providing long lasting benefits to the farmers. We don’t want to mention in this order those aspects at this stage since the APP (Dangre) has sought time to discuss those issues with the government and has assured this court that on next date of hearing, additional affidavit, if necessary would be filed in respect of the same. Looking at the seriousness of the issue involved, it will be appropriate to grant four weeks’ time to the state government for this purpose.”
Earlier, Firdos Mirza, counsel for petitioner Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari, pointed out to the court that under the package, the cottongrowers are going to get a meagre amount of just Rs 902 per person out of total package of Rs 3,750 crore, as per the affidavit submitted by the government to the court.
Giving details, Mirza said out of total expenditure of Rs 1,808 crore, the waiver towards interest is Rs 825 crore, Rs 810 crore were spent on irrigation projects and Rs 62 crore given for watershed development. The total expenditure comes out to be Rs 1,697 crore. If this amount is taken out of total expenditure, only Rs 111 crore remains to be spent on 12,05,282 cotton-growers which comes to just Rs 902 per farmer.
Mirza also informed that on state government’s website, over 3,000 farmers are mentioned to be in distress, but what steps the government has taken to bring them to normalcy was not mentioned. Moreover, he claimed that those reaping benefits of relief packages were not actual farmers, but someone else.
During an earlier hearing on the petition blaming the government for spate of farmers suicides, the state government had filed an affidavit wherein it informed that only 48% of prime minister’s special package for farmers was implemented in its first year, while the remaining 52% would be implemented in next two years.
The affidavit also informed that the state government’s package was of Rs 1,075 crore of which Rs 1076.9 crore were allocated so far and Rs 930.29 crore were actually spent i.e. 86% of state government’s package was implemented.
The affidavit informed that in 2005-06, 6.59 lakh farmers were distributed Kisan Credit Cards (KCC), while in 2006-07, another 3.80 lakh were added to this figure totalling 10.39 lakh farmers.
The affidavit further mentioned that that government is making all-round efforts to bring in new technology like organic farming, joint farming, seed replacement technique to increase the annual yield of crops.