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Reeling under drought & loan burden, Karnataka reported 456 farmer suicides so far this year

Of the 456 suicides reported so far, authorities have disbursed compensation in 354 cases. The thumb rule while deciding to pay compensation is that the farmer must have borrowed a bank loan and death must be due to suicide.
harath Joshi
Last Updated : 17 December 2023, 22:20 IST
Last Updated : 17 December 2023, 22:20 IST

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Drought and the burden of loans have driven 456 farmers towards suicide between April and November this financial year - nearly two deaths every day - even as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s government hopes to reduce distress with its interest waiver scheme. 

Almost all of Karnataka is reeling under drought. The government has declared 223 out of 236 taluks as drought-hit. 

A third of all farmer suicides were reported from three districts - Haveri, Belagavi and Chikkamagaluru. Haveri has reported the highest farmer suicides at 62, followed by Belagavi (56) and Chikkamagaluru (49). 

Farmers who kill themselves due to debt get Rs 5 lakh in compensation and the deceased’s spouse gets a monthly pension of Rs 2,000.

Of the 456 suicides reported so far, authorities have disbursed compensation in 354 cases. The thumb rule while deciding to pay compensation is that the farmer must have borrowed a bank loan and death must be due to suicide. 

On the last day of winter session of the legislature (Dec 15), Siddaramaiah announced that the government would waive interest payments for all crop loans whose principal amounts are repaid by farmers. This will apply to medium-term and long-term crop loans at cooperative banks. 

While the Finance Department is collating data to make provisions for the interest waiver, the total outstanding crop loans amount to Rs 535.43 crore at the Karnataka State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank Limited (KSCARD) alone. This includes Rs 229.32 crore principal and Rs 306.11 crore interest. The interest waiver will also apply to loans at the Karnataka State Cooperative Apex Bank, District Cooperative Central Banks and so on. 

“The interest waiver will reduce distress among farmers. It’ll help them cope with difficulties due to drought or the general farm distress,” Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda told DH

Siddaramaiah was under pressure from farmers groups to waive crop loans. Even the BJP demanded a crop loan waiver up to Rs 2 lakh. However, fiscal pressure due to the guarantees is said to have forced Siddaramaiah to go for an interest waiver instead. 

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Published 17 December 2023, 22:20 IST

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