NHRC notices to the Centre and Government of Maharashtra over the suicide of 639 farmers in Maharashtra between March to May, 2018 (16.07.2018)
New Delhi, 16th July, 2018
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that the Government of Maharashtra in the State Assembly has informed that 639 farmers committed suicide in the State between March and May, 2018. The reported reasons were crop failure, debt and inability to repay bank loans.
The Commission has issued notices to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra calling for the detailed reports in the matter, specifically mentioning the status of implementation of the schemes for the farmers and relief to the aggrieved families. The response is expected within four weeks. The Union Government is expected to inform the Commission, if they have any specific plan or mechanism in their mind to effectively address the situation.
The Commission has observed that it is not for the first time that such news has come to its notice. It has been receiving complaints regarding the deaths of farmers across the country, including the State of Maharashtra. It has also taken suo-motu cognizance of such matters. Committing suicide by the farmers in such a large number is a serious matter as it involves the right to life of the victims. Their families also come under tremendous pressure due to sudden demise of an earning member.
It has further observed that in spite of announcement of several schemes including crop insurance and loan waiver by the Central and State Governments, the forlorn story of poor farmers generally remains the same. The farmers are still choosing to end their lives, understandably, if not being able to cope up with the stress, financial crunch and social stigma due to crop failure. There is a need for the Central and State Governments to see that the schemes announced by them are implemented in true spirit, to achieve the target so that such tragic deaths of the farmers could be averted.
According to the media report, carried on the 15th July, 2018, a total 639 farmers had committed suicide in Maharashtra between March 1 and May 31, 2018. The information had been provided by the State Revenue Minister in the State Assembly in response to the questions of the opposition members. They had, reportedly, alleged that all the schemes of the government, including the loan waiver, compensation to farmers in case of loss of crops and minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural goods, had failed, due to which the cases of suicide by the farmers have increased.
The news reports further say that as claimed by the opposition, in the last four years, as many as 13000 farmers had ended life, of which 1500 committed suicide in the last one year alone. The Revenue Minister had reportedly stated that according to the parameters set by the State Government in October last year for declaration of drought, eight talukas of Yavatmal, Washim and Jalgaon districts were declared affected by medium intensity drought in April this year and the compensation along with other assistance has been provided to the affected farmers, accordingly.
It is further mentioned that on the 29th May, 2018, the Union Government made amendments in the rules for declaration of drought-hit areas, based on the suggestions made by the states and accordingly the state revenue and forest departments have made the changes on 28.6.2018. The Chief Minister of the State has reportedly stated that appropriate action will be taken to recover the mortgaged lands of the farmers from the respective lenders.