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PM to meet Andhra farmers
Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad |
June 26, 2004 17:28 IST
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Andhra Pradesh next month to interact with distressed farmers.
The prime minister had agreed to consider a request to visit two districts, Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy told newsmen on Saturday.
Inaugurating the two-day district collectors' conference, the chief minister said recurrence of suicides by farmers in the state was a matter of serious concern to the government. Due to successive drought in recent years, there had been a spate of suicides by farmers in the state, he said.
"During the last eight years, the situation had reached alarming proportions. Out of every four farmers committing suicide in the country, three were from Andhra Pradesh," he pointed out.
He lashed out at the Telugu Desam Party for trying to create an impression that farmers started committing suicide only after the Congress came to power. He refuted Opposition claims that 400 to 500 farmers committed suicide since the Congress government took over last month.
He said a cabinet sub-committee and official committees had been constituted to establish the cause of death.
He said five to six suicides by farmers were reported in newspapers and revenue and police officials were probing all cases. Out of the 245 suicides reported since May 14, he said that 126 have been found to be genuine. "Claims for compensation are being made even in the case of natural death and suicide due to reasons other than agriculture. We should say no to such claims," he told the collectors.
He urged the district collectors to implement government schemes sincerely to help debt-ridden farmers and ensure payment of compensation to families of farmers who committed suicide. He said the Farmers Agricultural Debts (Moratorium) Bill passed by the Assembly would come into effect as soon as it received the Governor's assent.
He said he would request the prime minister to extend assistance to the state under the Food for Work programme, aimed at creating employment in drought-affected areas. But he said implementation would be different from what it was under the previous government. "There will be no room for pilferage," he asserted.
The chief minister said agriculture and irrigation -- rather than information technology -- would be the government's top priorities. "We are at the crossroads. Sectors neglected will have to be given priority. But this does not mean that other sectors have to be neglected," he said.