BENGALURU: Since April this year, 457 farmers have committed suicide in Karnataka. In other words, two farmers have been killing themselves every day, pointing to the state of distress that continues unabated.
While Haveri has reported the highest number of suicides at 48, the chief minister’s home district of Mysuru is not far behind: 34 farmer suicides have been reported here.
In 2015-16, 1,475 farmer suicides were reported which was the highest in recent years. In the year before, 122 were reported, in 2013-14, 58 farmers committed suicide and in 2012-13, the corresponding number was 77.
However, for many bereaved families, receiving compensation remains out of bounds. The agricultural department does not accept all suicides as compensation worthy. Department officials said, “If a farmer is unable to clear loans taken for agriculture from authorised banks or financiers, it is considered a farmer suicide by the Karnataka government. Loans taken for other purposes, or even agricultural loans taken from unauthorised financial institutions, are not accepted as causing farmer suicides.”
Therefore, of the 457 cases, 210 applications have been accepted and 74 rejected while 173 remain pending with district authorities.
Agricultural officials said, “In 2015-16, of 1,475 suicides reported, 986 applications were accepted and 463 rejected while 26 applications remain pending.”
Elaborating how the department considers a farmer suicide, they said, “In each district, a committee headed by the assistant commissioner scrutinises the reasons for farmer deaths. If the death is certified as caused by crop loss, the assistant director of the agriculture department is informed about it.”
Compensation entails monetary grant of Rs 5 lakh, free education up to post graduation for children of the deceased, monthly pension of Rs 2,000 to the farmer’s wife and government health benefits.
What is often not reported is how the relief money is withheld by unscrupulous officials and how the bereaved families are made to run around and forced to offer bribes to get the amount sanctioned. Ironically, the dependents again have to borrow from moneylenders to pay the graft money. The vicious circle doesn’t end.