Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday announced that the government would build a memorial to Gajendra Singh, the farmer who died at an AAP rally in Jantar Mantar last month. The CM also announced that the eldest child in the family would be given a government job.
Kejriwal made the announcement at Outer Delhi’s Bawana while distributing compensation cheques to farmers who have suffered losses due to unseasonal rain this year. The cheques were distributed under the ‘Gajendra Singh Kisan Sahayta Yojana’, which was started in Singh’s memory.
“Farmers are forced to commit suicide in this country because they are not getting their due. His (Singh’s) death has brought this issue before the country. His death has made the country think… Every farmer puts in hard work, provides us food. In such circumstances, it becomes our duty to support them. The Delhi government, therefore, decided to launch a scheme to ensure that the affected farmers in the city are compensated for their loss and their children are fed well at least for the next few months,” he said.
On April 12, Kejriwal announced that farmers who had suffered a 70 per cent loss of crops or more would be given a compensation of Rs 20,000 per acre while those who had suffered losses below 70 per cent would be compensated with Rs 14,000 per acre. On Friday, the CM handed 28 cheques to farmers to begin with; the remaining will be handed cheques next week.
However, even as Kejriwal claimed that his officials had made correct assessments of the loss to farmers and had carried out an inspection of the villages soon after the April 12 announcement, Bijender Singh (47), a resident of Hirankudna village in Mundka claimed otherwise.
Singh owns two acres of land and claimed that no official visited him over the last month, forcing him to sow fresh seeds for new crop.
“We waited for two weeks and no one showed up. Our children couldn’t go hungry for too long and so we had no choice but to burn our fields and sow new seeds. How long would we have waited? Now they will never be able to make the right assessment of our damage. We have already ploughed our fields,” the father of two boys, aged 18 and 20 years, said.
Singh claimed he would ordinarily have got Rs 40,000 for 20 quintals of wheat that he managed to produce this season. However, this time, he not only lost his crop but had to spend Rs 22,000 to grow jowar. This too, he claimed, he managed with the drainwater running alongside the fields since the underground water in the village has dried up. “How will we ever be compensated for all this?” he asked. Singh is yet to receive his compensation amount.
Another farmer, Pramod Kumar (31), a resident of Harevli village in Bawana, said he had been given only Rs 53,660 for 12 acres of land. “I should be getting much more considering its Rs 20,000 per acre. They have fooled us” he said.
But government officials said since the announcement of the scheme, officials along with the tehsildar and staff of the SDM’s office have made several rounds to the villages across west, north and northwest Delhi.