51 farmers end lives in Mandya during 2016-17

The rising number of farmers’ suicide has become a cause for concern in the district, where all the seven taluks have been declared drought-hit.

There is no sufficient water in the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir to meet the drinking water demands and the summer has just begun. However, the number of suicides in 2016-17 (up to February) is less, compared to last year. While 123 farmers had committed suicide in 2015-16 (highest in the state), 51 farmers have ended their lives so far, this year with 10 farmers killing selves in February alone.

Out of 123 deaths, 32 cases were considered ineligible for compensation. In the remaining 91 cases, compensation of Rs 5 lakh was paid to the family of the farmers who committed suicide.

The state government has paid a total of Rs 4.55 crore as compensation. In 2016-17, out of 51 cases, only one has been rejected and Rs 1.65 crore compensation has been paid to 33 families, while documents are under being scrutinised in respect of remaining 17 cases. Mounting debts are said to be the reason behind the suicide cases.

The water level in KRS dam, the lifeline of the district, did not cross 110 feet mark in 2016, while the maximum level is 124 ft. The present water level is 78.42 ft (5.71 tmc ft water storage). The farmers in the Cauvery basin suffered crop loss on 70,000 hectares and the loss is estimated to be Rs 110 crore.

The situation will ease only if the district receives sufficient rains in 2017 monsoon, as the farmers can take up paddy cultivation, which will yield them some profits by October.

The situation is worse for sugar cane growers. If they transplant cane in July 2017, they can harvest the crop only by August 2018.

MLA K S Puttannaiah said that in the last 13 years, the district had faced the worst drought for nine years. The farmers are reeling under the debt trap. The government should bail out the farmers by waiving farm loans and by advancing new loans, he added.
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