ANANTAPUR: The suicide of farmer D. Bayyapu Reddy, 67, of Dadireddypalli in OD Cheruvu mandal, who owns 30 acres land in the district, has exposed the dreadful situation of the farming sector in Rayalaseema region and failure of governments to concentrate on precautionary measures to avoid series of suicides, due to crop failures, along with high state of debts.
Bayappa Reddy family was familiar with land lords from Dadireddy Palli after lands were sold by the elders, who had 30 acres. Reddy was enthusiastic of raising various type of crops, including vegetables and fruit orchards with the help of groundwater sources as there is no perennial and assured sources in surrounding areas.
The deep depletion of groundwater sources has led progressive farmers to search for tapping ground water, by drilling more borewells, to save the outstanding crops. He drilled at least 10 borewells but couldn’t get sufficient water. Debts of both banks and private lenders had reached to `26 lakh while Reddy was unable to clear even monthly interests. As pressured mounted from lenders and notices from banks were received, the land owner, who had 30 acres, took the extreme step by committing suicide by hanging from a tree in his fields two weeks ago. Bayyapu Reddy’s wife Bhagyamma broke out into tears and recalled, “We incurred loss almost every year for the past four years, but have been investing on drilling borewells to save outstanding crops.”
Bayyapu Reddy’s tragic end exposes the worse situation in several parts of Rayalaseema region. Further, suicide cases have been alarmingly increasing as 28 farmers committed suicide since two months in Anantapur district alone. However, TD claimed more than 76 suicide cases.
The situation is not confined to small and marginal farmers. Tens of hundreds of rich farmers have been incurring heavy loss and keeping lands idle due to consecutive drought years. At least 560 farmers committed suicide since 2014 and several cases are pending with district administration because they were denied compensation.
The non-government organisations and Left parties have been protesting over the apathy by the committees to identify the suicide cases to have compensation and relief package.
“Suicide cases too had a heavy impact in politics as in several cases, the cause for death was not cited as debt in the FIRs in connecting police stations”, Bhanuja, a social worker, lamented.
At least 1,475 widows and destitute women, whose husbands committed suicide due to heavy debts, due to consecutive droughts in the district, are being encouraged to begin new lives, REDS (Rural & Environment Development Society) from Kadiri area created confidence among the women to start new lives to help their families. Women-headed families have to take the whole responsibility of the family and earn the livelihood to feed the whole family.
Officials set up free helpline set up
Anantapur collector S. Satyanarayana said that a separate free helpline has been set up to create confidence among the farmers.
In the wake of huge number of issues pending with the districts and also mandals, the government is keen on taking preventing measures.
“We will chalk out a proper plan to prevent the suicides of farmers. The help line will definitely be useful,” he said.
Mandal and Revenue Divisional-level officials – Police, agriculture and revenue — were asked to submit detailed reports about pending issues pertaining to compensation for farmers’ families.
The state government, however, increased the compensation for families of farmers as a new package of Rs 7 lakh.
Minister Sankaranarayana hoped that all the irrigation tanks will soon get filled with Krishna water. The concept of Spandana, by the Chief Minister, to solve issues within a deadline and the farmers’ suicides and pending compensations are still at various levels.
“The government shall consider all the representations instead of depending on FIR copies in which many cases were mentioned as the reason behind the suicides which is not fair,” CPI district secretary D. Jagadish said.