Agrarian crisis in Kurnool District in Andhra Pradesh has been on rise, amplified by the recent drought in the state and a fall in the prices of Bengal Gram and Red Gram produce, largely cultivated crops in the district. Kurnool has reported 69 farmer suicides in 2018 and 63 in 2017, as per a recent reply by the District Crime Records Bureau to an RTI application reply.
Rights activist B Kondal Reddy of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, who filed the aforesaid RTI, says that the farmer’s distress in Kurnool has been increasing, but the government has failed to address the issue. “Farmers’ suicides is a new phenomenon in Kurnool district. Despite declaring that 53 mandals in Kurnool are drought-hit, the state government has failed to address the issue,” Kondla told Newsclick. He added that the victim families of the deceased farmers are not even provided with the promised government schemes. “Worse is that the government officials are delaying the distribution of the ex- gratias, and other assistance to the victim families, as promised by the state government.”
As per a February 2015 Government Order (GO) by the state government, in case a farmer commits suicide, an ex-gratia amount of Rs 3.5 lakh and a loan settlement of Rs 1.5 lakh are to be given to the victims’ families. Alongside, the GO also specifies that the deceased farmers’ children must be provided with free education (with hostel facilities) in social welfare schemes, and a house is to be allotted to the family under Indira Awas Yojana.
However, activists are arguing that the government officials are failing to provide the aforesaid benefits.
Here is the plight of Savitri, an agricultural worker in Kurnool District, as reported in Telugu daily newspaper Sakshi.
In August 2014, Pedda Yellanaganna of Lakshmipuram village in Kalluru mandal of Kurnool, had committed suicide by consuming pesticide, after he couldn’t repay loans raised for his farming. Yellanaganna left behind his wife Savitri and four children (three daughters and one son). Since then, Savitri has been raising her children by working as an agricultural worker, who are currently studying in government schools. Savitri had to sell her 2.5 acres of agricultural land and her house plot to repay the loans of her husband.
Savitri did not even receive ex-gratia amount, nor the victim family was provided with a house under the government scheme. Upon all this, with the recent drought, Savitri has been facing difficulties in finding agricultural work on daily basis.
Godowns in Kurnools are all filled with Bengal Gram and Red Gram produce, as farmers are forced to store them there with fall in their prices in the last few years. Reportedly, the prices of Bengal Gram and Red Gram has come down from Rs 14,000 per quintal and Rs 10,000 per quintal in 2016 to around Rs 5,000 per quintal and Rs 4,000 per quintal respectively.
Also read: Maharashtra Witnesses Rise in Farmer Suicides, 696 cases in 3 months