Chennai: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday sent a notice to the Tamil Nadu government regarding continuing farmer deaths in the state.
“The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports regarding the deaths of 106 farmers during a period of one month in Tamil Nadu which it considers as a matter of concern,” said the notice.
The NHRC said that farmers are feeling neglected by policymakers despite being the most crucial and significant section of the society.
The commission issued a notice to the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu and asked for a detailed report within six weeks with steps taken or proposed to be taken by the state government.
The state government, which had remained silent amid farmer deaths and the growing demands to declare the state drought hit, finally spoke up on Tuesday that a high-level committee will be formed to assess the extent of farmer distress.
The NHRC observed, “There is a need for sincere implementation of the laws and policies made for the farming sector especially, the small farmers. The farmers are required to be brought out of the agrarian crisis, which have been adversely affecting them since long.”
Failure of crop not only affects the farmers financially, but also puts them under tremendous stress and mental agony. The entire family collapses when a farmer dies or commits suicide.
Earlier on Thursday, Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu government to file an affidavit within four weeks regarding the steps taken by it to prevent farmer suicides in the state.
“We would like the state government to place on record the steps which have been taken to prevent the suicides of farmers,” said the first bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M. Sundar.
The judges gave the direction based on a plea by K.K. Ramesh, managing trustee, Tamil Nadu Centre for PILs, who had sought directions on the steps to stop suicides of farmers and also to set up an expert committee to create awareness among farmers about latest technology in the agriculture sector.
“A Tamil daily reported on 03.01.2017 that 83 farmers died of heart attack. There have also been instances of suicides by farmers. The same newspaper reported on 05.01.2017 that the number of deaths has reached 106,” said the NHRC notice.
As per reports, the most affected districts are Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Viluppuram, Pudukottai, Ariyalur, Cuddalore and Thanjavur, it said.
Tamil Nadu received only 166mm of rainfall during this northeast monsoon—considered to be the lifeline of Tamil Nadu—against its seasonal average of 437 mm, according to the Indian Metrological Department (IMD), Chennai. Both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are “largely deficient” during the three-month period (October to December).