Bengaluru: Though, there has been a steady decline in farmer suicides in the state, the delay in distributing compensation to the kin of the deceased has become a cause of worry for them.
Last year (from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016), as many as 1,430 farmers had ended their lives owing to failure of crops, non-payment of crop loans and harassment by private moneylenders. Of the 1,430, an alarming 705 farmers committed suicide in just four months from April 1, 2015 to August 31, 2015.
Even All India Congress Committee Vice-President Rahul Gandhi visited a few villages in Mandya district to instill confidence in the farming community. This forced the state government to press the panic button and announce a number of sops to prevent the deaths which included hiking the compensation from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, group insurance for families of the deceased, free education to children of dead farmers and an all out battle against private money lenders by slapping criminal cases against them.
During this fiscal, from April 1 to August 3, 2016, 199 farmers have ended their lives across the state much to the dismay of the government. The deaths have dropped but obviously have not stopped despite the sops announced by the government.
Sources in the agriculture department told Deccan Chronicle that of the 1430 suicide cases reported in the last fiscal, compensation of Rs 5 lakh each had been given in 922 cases while 415 cases have been rejected on various grounds.
This year, of the 199 cases reported so far, the government has given compensation in 77 cases, rejected 19 cases while 100 cases are pending for want of laboratory reports from the Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad-the only one designated lab in south India.
Soon after the postmortem, the body parts are sent to the FSL to certify the cause of death as natural or unnatural. This report comes to the police station concerned from where it goes to the assistant commissioner through the superintendent of police. Then, the assistant commissioners hold joint meetings to decide whether the case is fit for compensation or not.
The compensation is released only if the farmer is eligible. Sources pointed out that the delay in payment of compensation was happening because of delay in getting the FSL report from Hyderabad. Neither the agriculture nor police department can put pressure on the lab staff to submit the report early since the laboratory receive hundreds of cases from other south Indian states.
“There are instructions from the government not to hold back files pertaining to farmer suicide for a long time as it delays payment of relief to aggrieved farmers.At the same time, compensation cannot be paid without receipt of the FSL report,” said sources pointing to the hapless situation.