At least 134 farmers have committed suicide in Telangana in August and September due to crop failure and debts, according to the Telangana Rythu Joint Action Committee (TRJAC). “Normally, the farmers are still hopeful about their crops in August and September, but the lack of support from the government drove them to despair. Even the compensation from crop loss due to last year’s drought was not distributed to farmers until now, even though Rs.703 crores was released by the Centre by April 2016. Crop loans did not reach most farmers even until middle of August 2016, and the 3rd installment of Loan Waiver payment by the government was not only delayed but only released partially – resulting in further interest burden on farmers, and most of them being unable to enroll for crop insurance,’’ the JAC convenor Dr Jalapathi Rao said Tuesday.
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THE JAC Tuesday announced that they will be conducting a ‘deeksha’ in solidarity with farmers on October 23 at Indira Park dharna chowk in Hyderabad. The event was originally planned for October 2 but had to be postponed because of heavy rains and flooding that hit various districts. Posters publicizing the event were released by Prof. Kodandaram and other leaders. Participants in the press meet included representatives of several farmer organizations that are part of the Rythu JAC including Dr.Jalapathi Rao (convenor), Ravi Kanneganti (Rythu Swarajya Vedika), Anji Reddy and Sridhar Reddy (Bharatiya Kisan Sangh), Achutha Rama Rao (All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha), and Pittala Ravinder (Telangana political JAC).
October 23 event is meant to draw attention to the plight of farmers in the state who are suffering from severe neglect by the state government, and the impact of adverse climate including two years of drought, long dry spell this season followed by excessive rainfall and flooding. Releasing the posters, Rythu JAC leaders called for all sections of society including students, teachers, professionals and labour organizations to participate in the Deeksha and show solidarity with farmers. They expect farmers from across the state along with a large participation from all sections of Hyderabad.
The silent protest on October 23 will demand:
1. The government should make full payment of Loan Waiver in single installment and ensure that crop loans reach all farmers including tenant farmers and women farmers.
2. The government should immediately disburse input subsidy to drought-affected farmers and give assurance of crop compensation to all farmers whose crop is damaged this season.
3. G.O. 123 and related G.O.s should be withdrawn, and the Land Acquisition Act (2013) should be implemented with complete transparency and public participation in all projects. In all irrigation projects, all Project-Affected Families (PAF) should be given irrigated land in the command area.
4. The government should come out with a comprehensive Agriculture Policy for the state in consultation with farmer organizations – which will prevent farmer suicides in Telangana.
5. Revised Drought Manual should be adopted at the earliest, with inputs from farmer organizations.