Farmer suicides in Gujarat: One department says no deaths, other 56

0
249

November 16, 2014

GUJARAT, INDIA: At a time when the issue of farmer suicides in Gujarat has reached the Apex court in the country, there are two sets of data that are in possession of the Gujarat government.

Most of the farmers who committed suicides (irrespective of reason) were those living in the water-scarce region of Saurashtra.

November 16, 2014

GUJARAT, INDIA: At a time when the issue of farmer suicides in Gujarat has reached the Apex court in the country, there are two sets of data that are in possession of the Gujarat government.

Most of the farmers who committed suicides (irrespective of reason) were those living in the water-scarce region of Saurashtra.

One, from the state agriculture department, claims that no farmer in the state committed suicide due to crop failures and debt between 2008-13, while a different set of data from the state home department say that 125 farmers have died in the state during the same five period, 33 of them were related to debt and crop failure. Most of these deaths have happened in 2012-13.

The first set of data from the agriculture department claims that 56 farmers committed suicide during the five year period. However, none of them were due to "losses that happened in farming". In other words, the deaths were due to non-agrarian reasons and none of the suicides were linked to crop-failure or agricultural debt.

However, a different story unfolds when the second set of data from the state home department is analyzed. During the five year period between 2008-13, 125 farmer suicides have happened which includes 26 deaths due to crop-failure, seven due to "increase in debt" and 92 due to "other reasons".

Both these sets of data, in possession with The Indian Express, are part of the data that have been submitted by the two departments in the Gujarat legislative assembly in form of replies to questions posed by Congress MLAs in the House.

Of the 33 deaths that have happened due to crop-failure and debt in the state, 25 of them have happened during a single financial year of 2012-13, which saw an extended dry spell and water shortage in various parts of the state. Farmers living in Junagadh, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Porbandar, Amreli, Vadodara Rural were among the victims during this particular year, states the data from the home department.

However, there is a common thread in both these data sets. When the entire five year period is taken into consideration, most of the farmers who committed suicides (irrespective of reason) were those living in the water-scarce region of Saurashtra, especially in Jamnagar and Junagadh districts. For instance, 31 farmers committed suicide (only two were crop-failure related according to home department data) in Jamnagar alone during 2012-13, is certainly a cause for concern.

When quizzed about the two different sets of data making it to the state's legislature, Rajkumar, Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture & Co-operation said, "The Home department never consulted us on this issues, so I won't be able to comment on the basis of their set of data. The (police) FIRs are lodged base on the information that they get initially.

"But as far as we are concerned, officers from our department personally visit the homes of each and every farmer who is reported to have committed suicide in the state and conduct a thorough enquiry. This is done to the ascertain the exact cause of his death, which in most cases is not agricultural debt or crop-failure. It could be other nonagricultural reasons like debt taken for a marriage or a social function."

"Unlike in Vidarbha (Maharashtra), there has been good monsoon in the state for the last 10 years and so the farmers in the state do not face similar levels of distress," he added.


Courtesy: Indian Express