The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday issued a Government Order (GO) to release Rs 35.55 crore as ex gratia to family members of farmers who killed themselves in the state due to agricultural distress. The amount will be distributed to the families of 627 farmers.
Soon after coming into power last year, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government decided to grant Rs 7 lakh to families of farmers who had killed themselves in the last five years.
Special Chief Secretary Poonam Malakondaiah issued the order to approve administrative sanction to the Special Commissioner of Agriculture Department. The amount was allocated from the 2019-2020 budget estimation.
Earlier, when announcing the ex gratia scheme, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan said that only 391 families would get compensation, while 1,513 farmers had killed themselves between 2014 and 2019.
While the present disbursal of the ex gratia is being welcomed by organisations and farmer rights activists, many say there are certain points that need to be addressed besides providing compensation.
Peddi Reddy, the Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sankshema Sangam state president, said, "It's taking years for many to prove on record that they were farmers. To get the documents itself has become a problem. By the time the government acknowledges them as farmers, the families are even more debt-ridden."
He added, "The government said that district authorities should act immediately when a farmer kills himself. In very few cases does instant documentation take place. Usually, they have to run pillar to post to prove that the death is a result of agricultural distress."
Another activist, Balu Gadi, says that besides compensation, there should be active measures to provide rehabilitation, such as providing land or alternate employment as most of the suicides occur due to cases of landless tenant farmers.
Kiran Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika said, "The government's decision to give ex gratia for 627 farmer families is significant. But there were over 1,100 cases where we are looking into reasons for rejections. We are seeking that remaining legitimate cases should also get the same."