The one-man Commission of Inquiry has held the previous Telugu Desam Party government responsible for the large number of farmers’ suicides in Andhra Pradesh.
The inquiry commission, headed by retired judge L Ramachenna Reddy, which probed the causes for suicides by farmers between July 1998 and May 2005, submitted its 200-page report to the government on Sunday.
“The TDP government failed to strengthen the agricultural credit delivery system, agricultural extension advisory system and quality input delivery system to small and marginal farmers. The TDP government had paid compensation to families of suicide victims only for seven months. It stopped paying compensation to kin of the deceased farmers as it was wrongly felt that any relief measure would only cause more distressed farmers to commit suicide,” the commission observed.
“Had the scheme been continued by the TDP government, it would have been useful for several agricultural families who were in distress due to failure of crops and the number of suicides would have been reduced to a great extent,” the commission said and pointed out that other measures would have given some hope and confidence to the farmers.
The commission felt that the lack of irrigation facilities was a major cause of suicides. Rayalaseema and Telangana regions, which did not have adequate irrigation infrastructure, accounted for large number of suicides. The budgetary allocation for irrigation sector during the TDP regime was inadequate and pathetic. Successive droughts and the sale of spurious seeds resulting in crop failures also led to large-scale suicides.
“Contrary to the short-term steps taken by the TDP for its populist propaganda under IT-savvy chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the Congress regime has won the confidence of the farmers for its sincere implementation of farmer-friendly measures like free power and moratorium on private borrowings. It has realised and recognised the magnitude of the agrarian crisis and initiated steps to serve the farmers,” the commission pointed out.
Regarding the farmers’ suicides after the Congress came to power in the state in May 2004, the commission found that only 1,027 suicide cases were genuine against the 2,583 cases listed out by the TDP. The remaining 1,294 cases were not farm-related and 47 were incorrect and 205 were pending inquiry. Moreover, 10 persons shown as dead in the TDP list were alive.
Similarly, no weaver died of starvation in the last 18 months of Congress rule, as alleged by the TDP. The commission found that 21 persons mentioned in the TDP list were not weavers, either by caste or profession.
By Syed Amin Jafri