HYDERABAD: The Human Rights Forum has urged the state government to formulate a comprehensive Drought Relief Code to provide effective drought relief and mitigation.
"Such a code is imperative because governments continue to exhibit an adhoc nature and tokenism in providing relief towards droughthit people," HRF general secretary VS Krishna and secretary Anwar said in a statement on Sunday.
The HRF teams which visited 47 villages in nine droughthit districts, where farmers have committed suicide, have estimated that not less than 290 farmers have ended their lives over the past three months. "Over 90 per cent farmers taking their own lives are from the rainfed districts of Telangana and Rayalaseema. Cotton farmers in Telangana and groundnut farmers in Rayalaseema account for the maximum farm suicides," the HRF members said.
"Farmers are taking their own lives because of the appalling state of institutional credit leading to excessive reliance on private moneylenders. The drying up of public credit because of 'banking reforms' is the single most important contributing cause of farmer suicides. Farmers also lack access to reliable and reasonably priced inputs and proper remunerative price for their output," VS Krishna said. Apart from notching up the number of droughthit mandals at periodic intervals, the government is doing precious little by way of concrete relief. "Even implementation of the GO 421, which provides for an economic and rehabilitation package to family members of farmers who ended their lives, is pathetic. The RDOheaded verification and certification committee is barely visiting villages where suicides have taken place," they said.
The HRF members urged the government to stop underplaying the extent of the agrarian crisis and initiate concrete steps to solve the problem. "All cultivators, including tenant farmers must be brought into the ambit of institutional credit. If concrete measures are not forthcoming, there might be a suicide epidemic in the coming year," they warned.