The continuing drought-like situation has taken more lives of hapless farmers across India with as many as 116 farmers committing suicide in the last three months alone.
As expected, Maharashtra has reported the maximum deaths followed by Punjab and Telangana.
Placing the date before the parliament on 26 April, Minister of State for Agriculture Mohanbhai Kundariya said that more than 2,000 farmers’ suicide cases were reported due to agrarian reasons in 2015 with highest number of 1,841 cases in Maharashtra alone.
A PTI report said that 57 cases of farmers’ suicides were reported in Maharashtra on 29 February this year, while 56 farm labourers’ suicide cases in Punjab were registered on 11 March. In Telangana, there were three cases, Kundariya said in a written reply to the Lower House.
When asked if the government had taken steps to mitigate the impact of drought on farmers and prevent them from committing suicide, the minister said that it had approved Rs 12,773.34 crore relief package to 10 states affected by drought during kharif (summer) season of 2015-16 crop year (July-June).
Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan are reeling under drought.
In a separate reply, the minister said the rabi crops including wheat were affected in 15.06 lakh hectare due to unfavourable weather conditions in Rajasthan and Haryana.
Even the Karnataka government reported drought impact on rabi (winter) crops in 22.33 lakh hectare and had sought a central assistance of Rs 1,417.14 crore, he said.
“So far, a sum of Rs 18,408.98 crore has been released during 2015-16, to the aforesaid 10 drought-hit states under MGNREGA,” Kundariya added.
The minister also said that farmers were indebted due to both institutional and non-institutional sources of credit.
To bring more farmers within the institutional fold, the government is providing short-term crop loans and medium/long term loan to farmers. Short-term crop loan of Rs 3 lakh is provided to farmers at an interest rate of 7 per cent per annum and prompt re-payers are getting the benefit of 3 per cent interest subvention, he said.