The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Centre and the Maharashtra government, calling for detailed reports of farmer suicides in the state between March and May this year.
As many as 639 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra due to crop failure and inability to repay bank loans, state Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil had said in the Maharashtra Legislative Council last week.
NHRC has taken serious note of the matter following media reports, a statement said.
The NHRC said the notices were issued to the secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture, and the Maharashtra chief secretary, calling for detailed reports in the matter, specifically mentioning the status of implementation of the schemes for farmers and relief to the aggrieved families.
"The response is expected within four weeks. The Union government is expected to inform the commission, if they have any specific plan or mechanism in their mind to effectively address the situation," the NHRC stated.
The commission, in its statement, said that it has been receiving complaints regarding the deaths of farmers across the country, including in Maharashtra.
"Committing suicide by the farmers in such a large number is a serious matter as it involves the Right to Life of the victims. Their families also come under tremendous pressure due to sudden demise of an earning member," the commission observed.
It has further observed that in spite of announcement of several schemes, including crop insurance and loan waiver by the central and state governments, the forlorn story of poor farmers generally remains the same.
The farmers are still choosing to end their lives, understandably, if not being able to cope up with the stress, financial crunch and social stigma due to crop failure.
"There is a need for the central and state governments to see that the schemes announced by them are implemented in true spirit, to achieve the target so that such tragic deaths of the farmers could be averted," it stated.
Farm suicide statistics were provided by Mr Patil in the council in Nagpur in reply to a question by Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde and some NCP members.
They had, reportedly, alleged that all the schemes of the government, including the loan waiver, compensation to farmers in case of loss of crops and minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural goods, had failed, due to which the cases of suicide by the farmers have increased, the statement said.
The news reports further said that as claimed by the opposition, in the last four years, as many as 13,000 farmers had ended life, of which 1,500 committed suicide in the last one year alone.
Mr Patil had reportedly stated that according to the parameters set by the state government in October last year for declaration of drought, eight talukas of Yavatmal, Washim and Jalgaon districts were declared affected by medium intensity drought in April this year and the compensation, along with other assistance, has been provided to the affected farmers accordingly.
It is further mentioned that on May 29 the Centre had made amendments in the rules for declaration of the drought-hit areas based on the suggestions made by the states and accordingly the state Revenue and Forest departments have made the changes on June 28 this year.
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