Farmer suicides are rapidly rising, why isn't Telangana declaring a drought?

Reports of suicides have come from all districts as more farmers end their lives with every passing day
Farmer suicides are rapidly rising, why isn't Telangana declaring a drought?
Farmer suicides are rapidly rising, why isn't Telangana declaring a drought?
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Limbaiah, a farmer from Nizamabad traveled close to 200 kms to Hyderabad three days ago. He and his wife had brought their 24-year-old son, suffering from epilepsy, to the city for treatment.

However, this morning, the police found his body hanging from an electric pole near a temple in the Lower Tank Bund area.

While what drove him to the extreme step is still being ascertained, the police suspect that Limbaiah like scores of farmers in his state was facing financial troubles.

Limbaiah may or may not end up as a statistic, but his death once again highlights the crisis that the state of Telangana is going through. A rainfall deficit coupled with failing crops this season, has been driving many farmers in the state to end their lives.

Reports of suicides have come from Karimnagar, Medak, Ranga Reddy , Adilabad, Khammam, Warangal and Mahabubnagar districts as farmers are taking their life on a daily basis.

Reports suggest that there were instances when there were 19 suicides by farmers in 72 hours, as a result of dried-up crops and mounting debts.

Another report says that a single village in Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's home district Medak, has recorded 34 farmer suicides.

How bad is the situation?

The state government admitted last week that at least 409 farmers had killed themselves since the formation of Telangana. That's one farmer a day!

NGOs and independent surveys put the figure at almost thrice as much at 1200 farmer suicides since June 2014.

Kiran Kumar Vissa, State committee member of Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV), an NGO that helps farmers, says that the state government should learn from its mistakes.

"There are certain criteria on which the state decides if it should declare drought, and while the criteria were met last year, the state refused to declare it even though farmer suicides were high, and still managed to sail through. This year, the situation is worse and the government can't afford to repeat its mistake," he says.

The sudden increase in the spate of farmer suicides, came soon after chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao declared that the government had no plans to declare drought in the state yet and that any decision on the issue would be taken only after the kharif season officially ended on September 30.

The government also claimed that Rs 1.5 lakh as compensation had already been paid to 141 families. But there are still many families still awaiting compensation.

Why isn't the government declaring drought?

While the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) government admits that the crisis is real, they claim that they have inherited the legacy of suicides and they are not completely to blame.

Kiran feels that the government is taking a very bureaucratic approach to the whole issue, which is delaying the declaration of drought.

"When a state government wants to declare drought, it writes to the Centre, who then send a team to assess the ground reality and make the decision," he says.

The declaration of drought will also help the farmers with compensation and implement crop cutting measures to better the crisis.

However, with each passing day, the situation is getting worse and the Centre will not act until the state government calls on it.

"Time is of the essence. The state government must declare drought quickly, or things will only get worse," Kiran adds.

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