Drought not the culprit, ryots died due to illness, committed suicides for personal reasons: TN

The State, in an affidavit perused by Supreme Court on Friday, said it received information about the causes of farmers' deaths through reports collected from Collectors.

Updated - April 28, 2017 09:55 pm IST

Published - April 28, 2017 05:19 pm IST

A farmer showing dry crop at Tirupattur in Tiruchi district .

A farmer showing dry crop at Tirupattur in Tiruchi district .

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday blamed heart attacks, illness, and “in certain cases”, suicides for deaths of its farmers reeling under severe drought.

The State, in an affidavit perused by the Supreme Court on Friday, said it had received information about the causes of death of farmers through reports collected from district collectors.

The State was responding to the Supreme Court’s concern about the plight of farmers who have resorted to taking their own lives, unable to bear the brunt of the harsh life conditions brought down upon them by drought.

A Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra had chided the State for its silence and lack of concern as farmers die. The court recorded in an order that the farmers' PLIGHT “has the potentiality to disturb the conscience of any sensitive soul”.

But the State maintained that it has “always been sensitive to the plight of farmers”. It said relief was paid from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund to the families of deceased who were poor. So far, ₹2.46 crore was disbursed to the families of 82 farmers who died. Each family got ₹3 lakh.

Tamil Nadu said it had sought central assistance to the tune of ₹39,565 crore through its drought memorandum submitted in January 2017. Of this, the State received ₹1748.28 crore.

The government said it had always “hand-held” its poor farmers through their times of distress.

“In the previous year of drought in 2012, the Government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned relief to the extent of ₹1377 crore to help the drought affected population. Likewise, consequent to the floods of 2015-16, the government disbursed ₹407.57 crore as relief to 7.62 lakh farmers in order to enable them to get out of their misery as 8.67 lakh acres of their crops were affected,” the affidavit filed for the State through advocate Yogesh Kanna submitted.

Loans to the tune of ₹1840.79 crore were given to 3,48,323 farmers to help them tide over the effects of demonetisation, the State said.

“Tamil Nadu has also issued crop loans to 7,62,772 farmers for an amount of ₹4227.98 crore through cooperative banks during 2016-17,” the State submitted in the court.

It said Tamil Nadu faced one of the most severe droughts in over 100 years and the government had remained proactive and cared for its farmers through a multifarious approach.

“Tamil Nadu, one of the pioneer States in the country is always farmer centric and has brought revolutionary initiatives in agriculture,” the affidavit said.

The court posted the case for hearing on May 2.

The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an organisation represented by advocate C.R. Jaya Sukin, challenging the Madras High Court decision of February 14, 2017. The High Court had, without looking into the merits of the issue, simply asked the organisation to obtain information about the State's welfare schemes for farmers through an RTI request, the plea said. 

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