Mandya: Citing exorbitant loans as a major reason for farmer suicides, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday warned strict action against private money lenders charging more than 14 and 16 per cent interest rate.
"One of the major reasons is inability to repay loan; they have taken loan from banks, societies; they have also taken loan from private money lenders," Siddaramaiah said.
There was a spurt in suicides among distressed farmers in June and July and a committee consisting of officials has been constituted to look into this, he told reporters.
"We have received complaints about private money lenders charging higher interest rates. They should not charge interest rate above 14 and 16 per cent. 14 per cent interest for secured loan and 16 per cent for unsecured loan. Charging above this will be a violation of the law, and we will take action against them," the chief minister said.
In Mandya alone, authorities have registered more than fifty cases, and have seized about 1,000 documents, said Siddaramaiah, who is on a visit to Mandya and Mysore districts to comfort families of farmers who have committed suicide.
Amid a spurt in farmer suicides that has put government under opposition fire, the CM had directed all district in-charge ministers to visit families of the deceased farmers during the weekend and sought a report on compensation extended to them.
Alleging government of being "careless", opposition had said more than 50 farmers had allegedly committed suicide in the last two months. According to sources, Governor Vajubhai R Vala has reportedly written to the government seeking a detailed reply on increasing number of farmer suicides.
Stating that more number of farmer suicides have been reported from Mandya and Mysore districts, he said there is a need to ascertain the cause behind these deaths - if it is due to exorbitant loans or sugarcane issue or any other problem.
"I have already requested farmers not to commit suicide, we are with them. We have already directed co-operative societies not to recover loans, banks have been asked not give notice or forcefully demand for repayment... " he said.
About the steps taken by government to protect farmers like setting up of enforcement cells at district level to keep a check on private money lenders and repayment of dues to sugarcane farmers, Siddaramaiah said government is planning to constitute an expert committee.
"We are constituting a committee under M S Swaminathan on agriculture (Vision Group for the agriculture sector); to find the reason for deaths we will be constituting a separate committee," he said.