The Congress on Monday raised the issue of rising farmer suicides and asked the Centre to take concrete steps and targeted measures to reduce the pain of farmers by waiving their loans. Reminding Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his promise made to farmers of Uttar Pradesh ahead of elections, Congress spokesperson P L Punia said the same has not been announced yet even though the first UP Cabinet has met.
He urged Modi to not only fulfil promises made by him to 66 lakh farmers of UP by waiving their farm loans but also come to the rescue of distressed farmers across the country who are forced to commit suicide.
“We wish to recall the promise made by Prime Minister Modi to farmers of Uttar Pradesh that their loans will be waived in the first Cabinet meeting. Though the meeting has taken place, no such decision has been taken.
“The way Prime Minister was saying, it seemed all groundwork has been carried out and only a decision would be taken at the first Cabinet meet,” he said.
Punia said though Congress had not made any promise in 2006 to farmers, still it waived Rs 77,000 crore of loans.
Citing the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau 2015, he said 12,602 people involved in the farming sector (comprising 8,007 farmers/cultivators and 4,595 agricultural labourers) have committed suicide in 2015.
“This is a sad commentary on the status of our ‘Annadata – the kisan’, who are forced to undergoing hardship and tribulations under the present BJP government at the Centre,” he said.
Noting that there is news of widespread distress among the farmers of the country, Punia said, “we urge upon the government to take concrete steps and targeted measures in case of specific regions in order to reduce the pain and sorrow which our farmers are going through.”
He urged the Agriculture Minister to take substantial measures for drought-prone regions and take corrective measures for the same.
“We all heard the CM’s press conference after it’s first Cabinet meeting and but no decision was announced.
“We urge upon the Prime Minister to not only fulfil the promises made to the 66 lakh farmers of Uttar Pradesh, but to come to the rescue of the distressed farmers, forced to commit suicide in the entire country,” he said.
Punia highlighted that though the government is flashing 6 per cent agricultural growth, there is a “yawning gap” between growth numbers and the actual reality.
“The farmers are unable to get financial aid from the present government. Left with no other option and also due to the central government’s insensitive crony-capitalist approach, the farmers are being trapped by private money lending sharks,” he said.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Tripura to Maharashtra, he said the Indian farmer is facing acute adversity and farmers from South India are reeling under severe drought this year.
He said a large group of farmers from Tamil Nadu are protesting here at Jantar Mantar displaying skulls and bones of their brethren farmers who have committed suicide.
Quoting NCRB figures on farmer suicides, Punia said, Maharashtra (4,291), Karnataka (1,569), Telangana (1,400), Madhya Pradesh (1,290), Chhattisgarh (954), Andhra Pradesh (916) and Tamil Nadu (606) reported the maximum number of farmers’ suicides during 2015, which accounted for 87.5 per cent of suicides in the country.
He said for the first time in decades, that farm suicides in the North East have also risen four times in just a year.
“We had never heard of farm suicide deaths from the North East, but according to NCRB data, northeast has seen more than four-fold jump in farmers’ suicides from 21 in 2014 to 95 cases last year,” he said.
On the question that UP Chief Minister has banned red beacons on cars for VIPs, Punia said the new Congress government in Punjab was the first one to take a decision to do away with red and blue beacons.
“It is a good decision and I think rest of the country must follow it,” he said.