It said the 30 suicides reported by district collectors were due to a variety of causes, but not drought.
New Delhi: The Tamil Nadu government has informed the Supreme Court that not a single farmer in the state had committed suicide due to the drought situation, and claimed it was very sensitive to the plight of farmers.
In its affidavit filed before a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, the state said 82 poor farmers had died of natural causes like heart attacks or illness, and each of their families had been given Rs 3 lakhs as relief. It said the 30 suicides reported by district collectors were due to a variety of causes, but not drought. Conscious measures had been taken by the state to provide releif to individual families of the deceased in case of distress whatever may have been the reasons for the deaths.
On April 13 a three-judge bench had pulled up the state for being a mute spectator to the suicide of farmers and said it was obligatory for it to be sensitive and take steps to address farmers’ problems. At the resumed hearing on Friday, as three judges were not present, the matter was posted for hearing on May 2.
It may be recalled that Tamil Nadu farmers had been on a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to draw the Centre’s attention to their problems, and the court issued notice seeking the state’s response. Later P. Ayyakannu was allowed to file a petition in this case.
In its reply, the state said it faced one of the most severe droughts, unprecedented in the past 100 years. Karnataka had failed to release the state’s share of Cauvery waters for the past five years, it said, and this was one reason for the state facing drought in Cauvery delta.
However, it also said it had taken various proactive steps to provide redressal to the state’s farmers in distress. The state had requested the Centre to provide Rs 39,565 crores as drought relief, but the Centre released only Rs 1,748.28 crores in January this year, it said.
It said crop loans of Rs 1,840.79 crores had been given to 3.5 lakh farmers during the demonetisation period so that they could continue their farming activities without any glitch. Further interest-free loans were issued to farmers who made prompt repayments within the due dates, and as a result 7.62 lakh farmers were given loans to the tune of Rs 4,227.98 crores by cooperative banks, the state said, seeking dismissal of the petitions.