BY CHENNAIVISION AT 27 APRIL, 2009, 2:29 PM
Ludhiana, A glaring and sad aspect of suicides in the agriculture sector in Punjab is that the families of the victims not only had to sell land, but also other assets such as farm machinery, gold to repay their debts.
A government-sponsored study conducted by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Bathinda and Sangrur districts came across 2,990 suicides in the farm sector from 2000 to 2008. Of these, 1757 were farmers and the remaining farm labourers. Of these, 1288 farmers and 671 labourers ended their lives because of debts.
As many as 227 families in Bathinda district sold land worth Rs 7.36 crore to repay their debts. The average value of land sold was Rs 3.24 lakh.
In all 550 farmers committed suicide in Bathinda district due to debt. A majority of them (87 per cent) were small and marginal farmers owning land upto five acres while 13 per cent cases were reported among the medium and large farmers owning more than 10 acres.
The debt ranged from Rs two lakh to Rs 8.20 lakh in case of farmers who committed suicide.
In the case of Sangrur district, 738 farmers committed suicide owing to indebtedness. Of these, the families of 353 farmers sold land worth Rs 19.05 crore to pay off their debt.
The average debt burden in Sangrur was Rs 5.39 lakh. Besides, 58 families of these farmers sold even machinery and other assets.
In Sangrur, 57 per cent farmers were in the marginal category and 29 per cent were small scale farmers. The remaining 14 per cent were medium and large farmers.
The debt against them ranged from Rs 2.8 lakh to Rs 7.87 lakh in Sangrur district.
Average debt against labourers who committed suicide was Rs 70,036 in Sangrur district, and their average income was Rs 19,419.
The average debt against labourers who committed suicide in Bathinda was Rs 47,347 and their average income was Rs 21,710.
In Bathinda district, the most affected villages include Vhauke where 18 farmers ended their lives while in Mandi Kalan 17 farmers and in Pitho 13 farmers committed suicide.
In Sangrur district the most affected village were Andana where 18 suicides were reported followed by Bhutal Kalan (20), Seron (14), Bhattiwala Kalan (11) and Nagara (10).