Chittoor adopts a ‘humanitarian approach’

No ex gratia application is pending with us, claims senior official

September 08, 2022 02:54 am | Updated 02:54 am IST - CHITTOOR

Chittoor district, which has seen its fair share of farmer suicides, can claim to have at least promptly cleared the ex gratia to the ’ next of kin of the deceased.

Notwithstanding claims made by Opposition parties and NGOs, senior officials of the Agriculture Department maintain that there have been 64 farmer suicides in Chittoor district (including Tirupati and Madanapalle revenue divisions which are part of Tirupati and Annamayya districts). The suicides have been reported mainly from the rain-shadow areas of Madanapalle division, followed by the plains of Nagari.

“As of today, we have cleared ex gratia payment to all the 64 deceased farmers’ next of kin. There is not a single case pending with us, nor have we received any fresh appeals from any family,” says Joint Director (Agriculture) Muralikrishna Reddy.

“The district administration has adopted a humanitarian approach while paying ex gratia to the aggrieved families. For instance, in 2019, a tragic incident occurred at Ramasamudram mandal, where a farming couple had ended their lives. Then Collector Narayana Bharat Gupta, who called on the couple’s three orphaned children, sanctioned them ₹7 lakh ex gratia on the spot,” Mr. Reddy said.

The Joint Director said that a majority of the suicides in Chittoor district were due to debt traps, which were incurred on failed borewells, crop losses, and weddings. “Unfortunately, farmers from poor socioeconomic backgrounds take loans at high rates of interest, sometimes as much as ₹13 per ₹100. Fearing the wrath of moneylenders and public humiliation, they decide to resort to the extreme step,” Mr. Reddy said.

The daughter of a farmer who ended his life near Nagari in 2020 said that ex gratia had reached their family within a fortnight. The widow of a tomato farmer near Madanapalle narrated a similar experience. Both of them incidentally happen to be sympathisers of a rival political party, the official said. However, a majority of the suicide deaths among farmers were said to have happened between 2019 and 2021.

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