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Punjab -- the land of one farm suicide a day

BATHINDA: Punjab's revenue records show that some 130 farmers committed suicide between 2000 to 2007. Grassroot organisations put the number at 20,000 plus. Now, after the Punjab Government commissioned a survey cum study by the PAU, Ludhiana, it has come to light that some 2,890 farmers and farm labourers in just Bathinda and Sangrur killed themselves in the last nine years in distress because of farming crisis of indebtedness.

That is approximately one suicide every day. About 87 per cent of them were small farmers and agricultural labourers.

The study was done door-to-door study and the report is now with the Punjab government.

The PAU report says that of the total number of suicides, 1,757 were by farmers and 1,133 by agricultural labourers.

According to the study, in Bathinda, 773 farmers and 483 labourers, and in Sangrur, 984 farmers and 650 labourers ended their lives. About 65 per cent of the suicides were due to indebtedness. The remaining 35 per cent were due to “other reasons”.

However, farmers’ organisations are not ready to buy the argument of “other reasons”.

The phenomenon of suicides by agricultural labourers has surprised intellectuals, economists and farmers’ organisations. Of the total suicides, 37.89 per cent were by agriculture labourers.

“Suicides by labourers have been happening for a long time, but the debate has focused on farmers only . Nobody paid any heed to their misery since they were among the poorest of the poor,” said Lachchman Singh Sevewala, general secretary, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.

Agriculture labourers’ organisations say the main reason behind these suicides may not be indebtedness but the hopeless life labourers are forced to lead due to the agrarian crisis. The collapse of traditional farming and the public distribution system had made the labourers completely dependent on market whims.

The study also says that as per the rural population proportion, more suicides have taken place in Bathinda than in Sangrur. This puts a question mark on the argument put forward by some scholars that the suicides were due to economic distress.

They said Sangrur was not the most backward district of the state as far as agriculture was concerned. However, this new study says that the maximum number of suicides took place in the cotton belt.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 January 2016 18:36 )