Friday, 6 May 2005

Farm suicides in Andhra Pradesh

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 6: As Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy gets ready to celebrate his one year in office next week, as many as 2840 suicide deaths by farmers and weavers stare at him.
Rajasekhar Reddy's claims of "farmer-friendly" government in the State notwithstanding, seven farmers committed suicide everyday on an average since he took the reins of the State on May 14, 2004. In all 2565 farmers and 270 weavers ended their lives during the past 12 months exposing the lopsided policies and wrong priorities of the Congress government and its failure to provide remunerative prices to ryots.
The government failed to implement even the recommendations of the Farmers' Welfare Commission headed by economics professor Jayati Ghosh. Rajasekhar Reddy simply washed off his hands by referring some of the recommendations to the Central government. He even did not bother to do homework on the recommendations of the panel.
Nine farmers committed suicide since May 1 this year. Even on May 5, two farmers ended their lives unable to bear the loss they suffered due to lack of remunerative prices for their produce.
Karimnagar district recorded the highest number of farm suicides with the toll touching 301, followed by Medak with 230, Warangal with 210 and Mahbubnagar with 207 deaths. The break-up of farm deaths district-wise is: Srikakulam (14), Vizianagaram (7), Visakhapatnam (34), East Godavari (27), West Godavari (30), Krishna (65), Guntur (141), Prakasam (81), Nellore (65), Chittoor (89), Kadapa (64), Anantapur (137), Kurnool (144), Mahbubnagar (207), Ranga Reddy (134), Medak (230), Nizamabad (192), Adilabad (122), Karimnagar (301), Warangal (210), Khammam (81) and Nalgonda (189).
The State government, however, claims that only 777 of these deaths were related to farm debts. The three-member panels set up by the government have successfully eliminated beneficiaries to bring down the over all suicide toll from 2565 to just 777. The government is yet to pay compensation to even those who passed the "litmus test" of GO 421 on farm suicides.
As many as 244 farmers committed suicide within 15 days after Rajasekhar Reddy was sworn-in as the chief minister. The toll touched its peak in September 2004 with 345 deaths. In August 343 and in October 342 farmers ended their lives. The trend, however, slowed down from December 2004 with 172 suicides reported in that month. By January suicides came down to 151. It came down to 143 in February and went up to 148 in March. In April this year 146 suicides were reported from various districts.
Rajasekhar Reddy's political bete noire and predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu has prepared a database on farm and weaver deaths in the State. NTR Bhavan is maintaining a computerised list of suicides village-, mandal- and district-wise. It has also created a database on the reasons behind the suicides, the extent of land held by farmers and the debts they had incurred.

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