Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and his daughter K. Kavitha seem to be at the crossroads when it comes to providing relief to the families of those farmers who committed suicide in the face of mounting debt.
Whereas the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government ruled that only 325 out of 720 such families will be eligible to receive ex-gratia and other relief from the state, Kavitha announced a monthly pension of Rs 2,500 to the remaining 395 families for a period of four years through a non-governmental organisation, Telangana Jagrithi, which she heads.
The state government of Telangana was much surprised that Kavitha stepped in for those families who had been found ineligible for relief as per the parameters of the revenue department of the state which takes care of the dependants of those farmers who have committed suicide.
Ever since July there has been a growing spate of farmers’ suicide in the state.
Kavitha started a fund through Telangana Jagrithi from NRIs and others for the benefit of the kin of the dead farmers. So far, she has been able to mobilise around Rs 2 crore. Funds are still pouring in.
The intervention of the 37-year-old TRS Lok Sabha MP from Nizamabad has drawn people’s attention to the complex procedures that come in the way of providing relief to the hapless families of farmers.
The norms of the revenue department stipulate that the kin of the farmers who have committed suicide should produce as many as 13 documents to get the governmental relief of Rs 6 lakh plus other benefits.
Some of the documents like residence proof and identity proof and Aadhar card are easy to produce.
However, other papers with regard to the loan obtained from different sources and their utilisation are difficult to arrange. Many families of the deceased farmers are unable to produce these documents and thus, they have been rendered ineligible for availing the government assistance.
Sources in Telangana Jagrithi told The Sunday Guardian that authentication of documents to ascertain that the loan received by the farmer had been spent on his stated agricultural purpose proves to be a difficult process for the bereaved families.
Even if the family produces the papers, the crop on which the farmer spent the money should be the same as recommended by the agriculture department.
For example, if the agriculture department recommended farmers of a particular village to go for only dry crops, the farmers are obliged to comply with that instruction.
In case the farmer had gone for a cash crop like cotton or chilli, his family would not be eligible for the ex-gratia or other assistance. Most of the farmers who committed suicide, however, had gone for cash crops and taken debt in contravention of the departmental advice.
“It is for these farmers we had to enter the scene and provide a monthly pension of Rs 2,500 for a period of four years, till the family settles down. Our effort is to supplement the governmental support to the beleaguered families. We wanted to raise funds from the public and NRIs who were moved by the plight of the farmers and help those who fall outside governmental norms,” Kavitha explained.
Activists working for the welfare of the bereaved families welcomed Kavitha’s initiative and demanded that the government too should relax its norms for granting relief. “We had to fight against corrupt officials for the release of death certificate of farmers who committed suicide,” Caring Citizens’ Collective convener K. Sajaya told this newspaper.
The death certificate is crucial for receiving the ex-gratia and the loan waiver.
The families who had lost their male bread-winners were made to run from pillar to post to get a police certificate with postmortem report and a certificate from the revenue department officials stating that the farmer had died of agrarian crisis, said Sajaya.