Debate on farmers’ suicides begin in Assembly; Minister blames dry spell for deaths

As soon as the Telangana Assembly met after a six-day break on Tuesday, MIM legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi raised the issue of Vikaruddin and co-undertrials’ encounter and demanded a debate in the House, Speaker S Madhusudanachary informed that the House could discuss suicides of farmers for the entire day. He also clarified that a decision was taken in the Business Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the burning issue of farmers’ suicides first in the House. “Let’s set aside all other issues and take up only the farmers’ suicides’ issue for the day. We can take up Vikarudin encounter issue later”, the Speaker said.

When the MIM member insisted that Vikaruddin encounter be taken first, Speaker Madhusudanachary and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao convinced the MIM member about the need to discuss the farmers’ issue first. When Akbarudin relented, discussion on the suicides of farmers began in the House.

Initiating the debate, CLP leader and Leader of the Opposition K. Jana Reddy said the distressed farmers, resorting to suicides, was heart-rending. Pointing out that the farmers were reeling under severe drought conditions in the State, Jana Reddy said the members could discuss about the farmers’ suicides and role of previous governments and measures taken to alleviate suffering of farming community, but it was not proper for the ministers to rise on their feet one after another even before debate on the issue was completed. He also alleged that the government was trying to escape by throwing blame on the Congress for the farmers’ suicides.

Earlier, Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao told the House that the Congress was alone responsible for the suicides of the farmers.

Making a statement in the House, Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy said the reports of farmers suicides were painful. He admitted that standing crops withered due to dry spell immediately after sowing operations. All over the State, crops were raised in some 80 percent of the cultivable area. While Adilabad, Khammam and Warangal districts recorded average rainfall, 70 percent of crops were damaged in Nizamabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak districts due to scanty rainfall and 100 percent crops withered in Mahbubnagar district, he added.

The Minister informed the members that the State government was taking all possible measures to provide seed, fertilizers and power supply. He also said the farmers sunk more bore wells in the hope of getting adequate water due to dry spell. But the bore wells failed to yield water leaving the farmers despondent and sad, he said, adding that the State government was trying to waive the remaining 50% of crop loans at the earliest.

Attributing the farmers’ suicides to drought conditions in the State for the last two years, Pocharam said most of the irrigation projects in Telangana remained incomplete and the minor irrigation sector was totally neglected by the previous governments for decades. This year, the TRS government already waived 50% of crop loans to the tune of Rs 8,336 crore so far and concentrating to waive the remaining 50% crop loans soon. Despite the government making all out efforts to wipe out their tears, the farmers were resorting to suicides due to severe drought spell, he said. Keeping the farmers woes in view, the government has increased the ex gratia to Rs six lakh, he said and appealed to the farmers not to end their lives in despair. (NSS)