Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 29
There is a sudden rise in farmer suicides in the state. Around 150 farmers and agricultural labourers have reportedly committed suicide in the last three months alone, claims Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan).
Though agrarian suicides have been a continuous phenomenon for the past two decades, the last three months saw a sudden rise. As per a report prepared by the BKU, there have been 50 suicides every month since May.
The report is based on news on the matter appeared in five Punjabi newspapers. As per the report, in April 42 farmers committed suicide, May and June 50 each and in July till Sunday, 47 farmers and labourers committed suicide. There is around 20 per cent jump in suicide cases in this period.
Since the formation of the Congress government in the state two and a half years ago, there have been around 1,200 suicides. The situation indicates that the measures taken by the present government have proved ineffective in addressing the state’s agrarian crisis, the report claims.
It states that the Congress had formed the government, claiming to address the agrarian crisis on priority, but it failed to arrest the rising trend of farm suicides.
Going into the reasons, Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary, BKU, says it is due harsh measures taken by banks as well as arhtiyas. “Earlier, the banks and arhtiyas used visit farmers to get their money back, but now they have started taking blank cheques due to which several farmers were jailed too. It is the main reason behind the rising number of suicides,” he said.
Experts say the solution lies in some permanent measures. Even government’s debt waiver has helped only as a temporary measure. The solution lies in creating employment outside the farm sector or increasing income of farmers.
The state government had taken various initiatives, including giving debt waiver of Rs 4,600 crore to crisis ridden farmers of the state. The state aims to waive a total of Rs 7,000 crore in its five-year term. However, it is silent on debt of farmers which they owe to private moneylenders.
Prof Ranjit Singh Ghuman of the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, said, “The data collected by the BKU corroborate with the studies done by the three universities, which settle at over 16,000 suicides in one and a half decade. Going beyond the data, it is time to address how the suicides can be prevented. Besides, there is also a need to address the problems of the families of suicide victims.”
Over 10,000 deaths during 2007-17
- Even as the Akali Dal has been trying to claim themselves to be champions of the agrarian issues, more than 10,000 farmers and agricultural labourers had committed suicide during their 10-year rule between 2007-17.
- Three state universities (PAU, Guru Nanak Dev University and Punjabi University) had found in their report that over 10,000 debt-ridden farmers and labourers committed suicide in 2007-17 period.
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