SUICIDE BY FARMERS UNDER DEBT

Frame relief policy in 2 months, HC tells state
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state to frame an “appropriate scheme” for granting financial assistance to the families of farmers who committed suicide.

The government has agreed to disburse financial assistance of Rs 64 crore among the affected families in two instalments.

The first instalment is to be paid by March 31 and the second by July 31. The government released Rs 23.86 crore for the purpose in 2012-13. A compensation of Rs 1 lakh per family was disbursed on the basis of survey reports.

Taking on record the latest undertaking given by the Punjab Government, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Arun Palli set a two-month deadline for the purpose. On an average three farmers kill themselves every two days in Punjab. A survey by Punjabi University, PAU and Guru Nanak Dev University two years ago also revealed that an estimated 5,000 farmers and farm labourers committed suicide in the agrarian state in the last decade (2000-10). Of these, 3,000 committed suicide in just two districts of Bathinda and Sangrur.

The directions came on a petition filed by Movement against State Repression. As the case came up for resumed hearing, counsel for the petitioners RS Bains insisted that the larger question of formulating a policy for giving financial assistance to the affected families was yet to be framed. Insisting that the disbursement was being made on ad hoc basis, he submitted that some of the states, including Andhra Pradesh, had already framed such schemes. He also suggested that the Andhra Pradesh module could be followed.

The High Court directed the state and another respondent to “frame an appropriate scheme within a maximum period of two months preferably taking into account the module of Andhra Pradesh scheme”. The High Court directed the state to place the final scheme before the court. The case will now come up for compliance on May 2.

Alarming facts

  • On an average, three farmers kill themselves every two days in Punjab
  • A survey reveals an estimated 5,000 farmers and farm labourers committed suicide during 2000-10
  • Of these, 3,000 belonged to Bathinda and Sangrur