Hyderabad: At least five farmers reportedly
committed suicide in last few days in Andhra Pradesh due to
prevailing drought-like situation, though, unofficial
estimates put the toll around 40.
The state government, however, is neither denying nor
confirming the "suicides at this stage" even as official teams
have been asked to verify the facts following media reports.
Referring to the reports, Agriculture Minister N
Raghuveera Reddy said, "I am not denying it. But, unless I get
confirmation its difficult to comment."
"One thing I can tell you the (drought-like) situation
is very bad and severe. No second opinion on it," he said.
Every suicide committed by farmers and reported either
through media or through complaints is looked into by a
committee comprising Sub-Collectors/RDO, ASP/DSP and Assistant
Director Agriculture, which visits such places to verify the
incident, he said.
If it is found that the suicide is farm-related, then the
government immediately provides Rs 1.5 lakh relief package to
the farmer`s kin, the Agriculture Minister said.
With regard to the recent reports on farmers suicide,
"unless I get confirmation, we cannot attribute it to
drought-like situation," Reddy said.
The government, he said, is taking suitable measures to
tackle the situation. "Whatever is required in the form of
alternative seeds, employment generation and relief measures
are underway on war-footing," Reddy added.
The delayed monsoon has not only made the farmers
worried with poor sowing but also the common man with prices
of redgram touching close to Rs 90 per kg. A senior
agriculture official said, "Its about 50 per cent of normal
sowing operations taken place, so far in AP."
He said approximately 35 lakh hectares of land has been
sown so far, when compared with the 79 lakh hectares earmarked
for normal sowing, though, he said, they had prepared working
on contingency plan due to the drought-like situation.
"We will motivate farmers to take up alternate crops and
are ensuring seed availability at subsidised costs. Measures
are underway to supply 3.70 lakh quintal seeds to different
districts," Agriculture Commissioner Sunil Sharma said.
Asked if the scanty rainfall is likely to hit paddy and
other crops, the official said paddy coverage so far is 8 lakh
hectares as against normal sowing of 25 lakh hectares.
"If rains come, we are hopeful to reach 20 lakh hectares,"
he said. Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department has said
monsoon is deficient by about 52 per cent so far in the state.
"There is 52 per cent deficit rainfall in Andhra Pradesh
so far. During this time of season, the normal rainfall in the
state is 309 mm but we have received rainfall of only 149 mm,"
Hyderabad Met Office Director M Sathya Kumar told a news agency.
He, however, said at this moment, this less than normal
rainfall may not be immediately termed as a failure of
Southwest monsoon, as rainfall in Andhra Pradesh continues in
August and extends till September end.