Monday, Sep 15, 2003
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Speaking to presspersons, Prof. Chandrashekar, who is also the Minister in-charge for Mandya district, said the number of farmers' suicide reported from the district since August 1 this year was 24. "But only 10 cases had been found to be eligible for compensation," he said.
Similarly, 10 cases of suicide by farmers had been reported from Mysore district since August 1.
"After a preliminary inquiry, only one case was found to be eligible for compensation." Even in suicide cases, which were found to be eligible for compensation, there were doubts in some cases, Prof. Chandrashekar said. Details of post-mortem and forensic tests were expected to clear the doubts, he said.
Most of the cases, which had been reported as suicide by farmers, could be attributed to unsound mind or a failed love affair.
In several cases, the "farmers" did not have land in their names, the Minister said. "Hence, they cannot be considered for compensation," he said and added that the sweeping generalisation of any farmer's death had led to an exaggerated account of the suicides by farmers who really resorted to the extreme step due to distress.
Though he stopped short of blaming the media for blowing the issue out of proportion, Prof. Chandrashekar urged it, particularly the electronic media, to exercise restraint while reporting the cases.
"I am not holding the media responsible for this. But it should not happen."
Prof. Chandrashekar said the district administration had been instructed to verify the actual reasons behind a farmer's death.
"It is not an attempt to cover up. But, the authenticity of suicide has to be confirmed," he said.
Reacting to representations by banks that a part of the amount given as compensation be used for repaying loans taken by farmers, Prof. Chandrashekar said the matter was left to the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, who also holds the Finance portfolio.
When his attention was drawn to the President of the State unit of the JD (S), Siddaramaiah's demand to waive the loans taken by farmers up to 2003, Prof. Chandrashekar said the issue did not come under the purview of his department. "The Chief Minister should take a decision on it," he said.
Referring to the debate on farmers' suicide in the State, Prof. Chandrashekar welcomed the visit of the Pejawar Math seer, Vishweshwa Tirtha Swamiji, to Mandya district on Saturday to console the bereaved families.
The Minister said that more than 80 per cent of farmers in the district had switched over from the traditional sugarcane crop to other crops that needed less water.
"It is a good augury that farmers have accepted the suggestions of the Agriculture Department," he said.
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