The spate of suicides by farmers in Telangana rocked both houses of the state legislature on Tuesday.
Voicing concern over the suicides, the state government said it was taking all steps to help the farmers overcome the hardships.
Suspending question hour and other business, both houses took up a debate on the issue, which was marred by allegations and counter-allegations by the ruling and opposition parties.
In the legislative council, opposition parties demanded the house observe silence in memory of the farmers who committed suicide but the Telangana Rashtra Samithi turned down the demand.
Council chairman Swamy Goud said the house can pay its condolences after the debate.
Despite best efforts of the government to help the farmers, they end lives due to crop damage due to deficit rainfall, agriculture minister P. Srinivas Reddy said while making a statement in the assembly.
For the present situation, the minister blamed policies of the successive governments in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.
The agriculture sector was neglected for decades. The irrigation projects were not taken up while minor irrigation system was totally ignored, he said, blaming depleting ground water table and erratic electricity supply among other reasons for the farmers’ distress.
Sowing operations were taken up across the state with good rains in the beginning of the season in June. However, dry spell for more than 25 days led to rainfall deficit of 66 percent.
The rains in August and September brought down the deficit to 14 percent, 50 to 70 percent crops were damaged in five districts, he said.
In Mahabubnagar district 100 percent crops were damaged, the minister said.
This year various crops were cultivated in the area of 35.13 lakh hectares, which includes over 26 lakh hectares rainfed crops and nine lakh hectares irrigated crops.
Srinivas Reddy said under Rs.17,000 crore loan waiver scheme for farmers, the government spent 50 percent amount.
The government will consider providing the remaining amount in one go to provide relief to farmers, he said.
The government also increased compensation for farmer suicide deaths from Rs.1.5 lakh to Rs 6.lakh.
A few days, the minister said 430 farmers ended their lives in last 15 months. The opposition parties, however, alleged that 1,400 farmers committed suicide since the separate state came into existence in June last year.
According to the National crime records bureau 898 farmers committed suicides in Telangana during 2014. It was the second-highest number in the country after Maharashtra, which reported 2,568 farmer suicide deaths.
Participating in the debate, main opposition Congress Party’s Jeevan Reddy and Telugu Desam Party’s E. Dayakar Rao said the implementation of loan waiver scheme in installments was leading to suicides.