MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government today ordered a probe into inadequate compensation awarded to an elderly farmer who committed suicide while protesting over the payout given to him for a plot of land.
Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick will probe the circumstances under which the farmer, Dharma Patil, died, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said after a cabinet meeting.
The 84-year-old resident of Dhule, North Maharashtra, consumed a poisonous chemical at the state secretariat here on January 22 and died at a government hospital on Sunday night.
He was protesting against inadequate compensation for a plot of land acquired by the government for a project in Vikharan, Dhule district.
Shiv Sena minister Diwakar Raote raised the issue in the cabinet meeting here and blamed the previous Congress-NCP government for Patil's death.
Raote said if the previous Congress-NCP government had committed mistakes while awarding compensation to farmers in Vikharan, there was no need for the present dispensation to repeat those mistakes.
"We know the Congress government had finalised the amount of compensation and it was disbursed in our tenure. Thus, the previous government (led by Congress) should be held responsible for the death of Dharma Patil and for not resolving his grievances," Raote told reporters here.
"However, our ministers have been trying to protect the officials who actually are responsible for the whole issue," he added.
Raote said the need of the hour was to take corrective steps and provide relief to farmers whose land had been acquired for a power project in Dhule district. This will ensure such incidents are not repeated.
Mungantiwar said the chief secretary has been asked to submit a report at the cabinet meet next week. The government will take strict action against officials found guilty in the investigation.
The chief secretary will probe why Patil was awarded a meagre compensation. Besides other things, he has also been asked to probe if agents are active to "manage officials" to receive higher compensation from the government, official sources said.