Maharashtra Advocate General Shreehari Aney, while appearing in a matter pertaining to farmers’ suicides said if a person loses essential dignity it is not easy to live if one has even an ounce of pride.
“Some food management plan has to be there because if a farmer knows his wife and child have food, this will stop a farmer from committing suicide,” he said during a hearing at the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.
Amicus curiae, Advocate A Kumbhakoni, informed the court that 124 farmers had committed suicide in Marathwada since January, of which 20 were reported from Osmanabad district alone.
The High Court took suo motu cognisance of a news report which stated that as many as 32 farmers from Marathwada region had committed suicide in a span of seven days in the first week of September, 2015. A week ago, the court was informed that 89 farmers had committed suicide in Marathwada region in January this year.
“The figure is very alarming…in the last one-and-half months, 124 farmers have killed themselves,” said Justice Naresh Patil.
The Attorney General said that government officials sitting in offices in Mumbai will not understand the plight of farmers. “The government fears losing the paltry sum of Rs 30,000 to fraudulent claims. It does not realise that no man will try to defraud the state by claiming his own life. But then we cannot expect officials to understand the farmer’s plight while sitting inside air-condition offices in Mumbai,” he said.
“A cell should be set up which should directly report to the chief minister so he comes to know what is happening,” said the High Court.
The issue of hospitals not being supplied with water in Marathwada was also taken up. “If there is an urgent surgery, some system will have to be devised to take the patient to the nearest functioning hospital in such a situation,” said Aney.
Aney further said wells would be dry by March and there should be a disaster management plan to deal with the situation. The High Court suggested that the government rope in corporates to deal with the crisis. The court had earlier suggested that big business houses be urged either to adopt villages or provide equipment, including tractors, to farmers for free. The court had suggested that the government could promote collective farming as a solution. Aney said while corporates could be persuaded to do that, it could not be binding on them.
He urged the court to direct district collectors across the two regions to deploy senior officials to disburse compensation to kin of the deceased farmers in a time bound manner. The bench has also directed the union government to respond on ways it can extend assistance to these farmers in the next round of hearing.