SC asks TN govt to spell out steps taken for farmers' welfare

SC asks TN govt to spell out steps taken for farmers' welfare
The Supreme Court today asked the Tamil Nadu government to spell out in detail the steps taken by it for the welfare of farmers on issues including fixing of minimum support price (MSP) of notified crops like paddy and millets.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed the K Palaniswami government to peruse the suggestions of the amicus curiae in the matter and file a comprehensive affidavit in four weeks.

"Additional Solicitor General P S Narsimha (appearing for the state) shall peruse the suggestions given by the amicus and file a comprehensive affidavit regarding what steps have been taken by the state," the bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The apex court was hearing a plea by farmers, through Tamil Nadu Centre for Public Interest Litigation, demanding a drought relief package of Rs 40,000 crore, farm loan waiver and setting up of Cauvery Management Board by the Centre.

During the hearing, advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter, submitted a six-page note enumerating the observations made by him on the state government's affidavit regarding the farmers.

He also told the bench that he needed more information from the state government to know the ground reality about the farmers' situation in the state.

In his note, the amicus curiae has asked whether MSP has been fixed for all the notified crops by the Centre and whether the state government was implementing it.
The document also deals with several aspects like regulation of markets for farmers and whether there was any mechanism to disseminate information with regard to price change of crops.

The matter has been listed for hearing on November 27.
The apex court had earlier asked the state to devise a mechanism where farmers can go to the government seeking help if financial institutions take coercive action against them for loan default due to crop failure.

It had said the government should take the administrative action to get rid of the middlemen, who purchase produce from farmers at throwaway prices, and buy their crops at the MSP.
It had on May 3 said there should be "affirmative action" of the Tamil Nadu government to provide relief to the families of those farmers who have committed suicide.

The court made it clear that it was not treating the plea seeking relief for farmers in the state as adversarial but participatory and would not go into the figures of farmers who have committed suicide.

The apex court had asked the state government to specify the steps taken to create awareness on MSP on 26 crops so that farmers do not rely on middlemen who come to their doorsteps to buy their produce.

The state government had said that steps were being taken to set up awareness camps and measures have also been taken to have mandis which are easily accessible.

The Tamil Nadu government had earlier told the court that a total of 30 farmers have committed suicide across the state in 2016-17 and it was taking appropriate measures to deal with the situation.

The state had said that the kin of 82 farmers, including the 30 farmers who have committed suicide, have been give Rs 3 lakh each as ex-gratia from Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

It had said as per the reports compiled from information given by district collectors, 52 of the listed 82 farmers had died of various other reasons, but not committed suicide.

The state, in its affidavit, had said it faced the most severe drought in over 100 years and was adopting a proactive approach towards farmers it extended crop loans to the tune of over Rs 4,000 crore to over seven lakh farmers in 2016-17.
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