Trinamool blasts CPM, Cong, BJP over farmers/land

The leader of the party in Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien today blasted the CPI(M), Congress and BJP in the Rajya Sabha during a discussion on farmer suicides and agrarian crisis in India. He accused the CPI(M) of shedding crocodile tears over farmers because between 1990-2005 there was 19331 farmer suicides in Bengal.

Derek O’Brien also said that Mamata Banerjee was the only leader fighting for the rights of farmers in 2006, when she went on a 26-day hunger strike. Trinamool has been consistent on the issue of land acquisition. “UPA-II’s land bill was a bad bill. We think the bill by this government is a draconian bill,” he said. He also reminded the House that in 2013, Trinamool was the only party to vote against the land bill.

Derek also made some constructive suggestions to solve the agrarian crisis in the country. He suggested other States follow the Bengal model of distribution of Kisan Credit Cards. He urged the government to protect the jute farmers and increase the MSP for rice. He also highlighted how the Bengal government handled the potato crisis through a series of measures. He also suggested the government to use science and digital technology to boost productivity.

Urging everyone to rise above politics for the sake of farmers, Derek O’Brien warned the government that the land bill was going nowhere.

Click here for the full transcript of his speech

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy speaks during a discussion on farmers’ distress and crisis | Full Transcript

Full Transcript

Sir, on behalf of my party All India Trinamool Congress, I join the honourable members in expressing our deep concern, grief and anguish over the suicide of farmers almost in every part of country. This is going on unabated.

Sir, according to a recent report published by the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice, at New York University, it appears that over the past 15 years, suicides have claimed the lives of over 2,50,000 farming families in India and the death count is still climbing. Sir, according to that report, in every 30 minutes farmer suicides are happening.

What is the latest situation? In 2014 alone, as per the government figures, 1109 suicides took place. Out of those, 986 took place in Maharashtra, 184 in Telangana and 29 in Jharkhand. Even in Delhi and Rajasthan, yesterday farmers committed suicide. We are not here for a blame game but want to focus on the issue – the unprecedented crisis that India is confronted with.

Sir, there are several reasons why farmers are committing suicide. I would like to mention the main reasons, according to me. 40% farmers are in debt according to some research reports. Cost of inputs is increasing faster than cost of produce. Droughts and floods are occurring every five years, affecting 40% of the agricultural land in different parts of the country. More than 60% of the agricultural land in India, even after 67 years after independence, is dependent on rainfall. Some of the irrigation projects have not been completed for 20 years. Average net profit on one acre of land growing cereals is Rs 5000 only.

Therefore, the farmers are not getting remunerative prices. Not in Punjab, not only in Uttar Pradesh or Telangana. It is a common cause in every State of India. I will come to how West Bengal has combated this situation.

I would like to read one line from page 13 of the Election Manifesto of BJP before Lok Sabha elections. “Agriculture: Scientific, productive and rewarding.” They have assured the nation, before coming to power, that they will make agriculture scientific, productive and rewarding. To elucidate that point they also said: “The government, if they come to power, will ensure minimum 50% profits over the cost of production.” Here is a pledge before the nation by the ruling party. I would like to know from the government, the honourable ministers in charge of agriculture, food and other ministries, what is the roadmap of the government ensure minimum 50% profits over the cost of production.

This is main cause of concern. Farmers are not getting remunerative price. They are taking loans in the hope, they are yielding, thinking that next year they will yield, get remunerative price and pay off the debts. Nothing is coming out. Therefore, the only alternative left to marginal farmers is to commit suicide.

I am not blaming anybody but the government must address the situation. My government in West Bengal, under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, was confronted with some problem of not getting of remunerative prices by potato farmers. The Chief Minister of West Bengal herself announced on 4 March, 2015, that 50 000 metric tonnes of potato will be directly procured from farmers, from 8 major potato-producing districts, at the rate of Rs 5500 per metric tonne. After procuring potatoes, the government is distributing them to schools for mid-day meal programme and beneficiaries of ICDS at the rate of 1 kg per head per week. This was announced on 11 March, 2015. If the government of West Bengal can do it, why can’t the government of India do it? This is the moot question.

The government of West Bengal has ensured the procurement of potatoes from farmers against only account payee cheques. This is a very transparent system. Till 21 April, 2015, 20,000 metric tonnes of potatoes have been procured and farmers have been paid by account payee cheques to sustain themselves. Potatoes are also being procured at the rate of Rs 550/quintal and 6000 quintals of potatoes have been procured so far. This apart, transport subsidy scheme has been introduced for interested potato traders and transporters.

To ease the stockpiling of farm produce, the government of West Bengal has requested the government of India on 9 April, 2015, to purchase one lakh metric tonnes of potatoes from farmers at minimum price of Rs 5500/metric tonne, the rate at which state government is purchasing. The Chief Minister wrote to the Union Finance Minister. To relieve the potato growers of economic hardship, the Chief Minister herself requested the government of India to waive the crop loans issued to potato growers during 2014-15 potato season and also to arrange fresh loans for the ensuing Kharif session.

So, these are some measures taken by the West Bengal government to come to the rescue of potato farmers. This is not just the case of potato farmers. If you look at a bigger canvas, the all-India perspective, you will find that the issue is same everywhere. Particularly the marginal farmers are subjected to such unprecedented crisis. The government must come up with a concrete and definite proposal and also announce it before the House. The House wants to know from the ruling party, it is a need of the hour to arrest the situation where the farmers are compelled to commit suicide.

On one hand we are claiming that we are going ahead with economic growth, claiming we will cross the economic growth of China. And then there are such tragic events like that of yesterday. This government has extended reliefs worth almost Rs 15,000 crores to the corporate in the form of tax waivers and other incentives. Why should such waivers not be extended to farmers? Farmers are crying for help with folded hands.

I urge the government to come up with a definite proposal with a proper roadmap and a timeframe to solve this crisis of farmers.

Thank you.

Centre must follow Bengal model to help farmers in distress: Trinamool

Trinamool today highlighted the plight of farmers in Parliament and demanded that the Central Government must come up with a concrete proposal to address the grievous issue.

Speaking during a discussion in Rajya Sabha, Chief Whip of the party Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said, “On one hand we are talking of unprecedented growth and on the other hand farmers are committing suicide. This govt is extending waivers worth thousands of crores to corporates. Why should such waiver not be extended to farmers?”

SS Roy also highlighted the steps taken by West Bengal government for addressing the plight of farmers. He said, “Government of West Bengal took initiatives to solve the plight of potato farmers. WB CM announced 50000 metric tonnes will be directly procured from farmers. The government is distributing these potatoes to schools under mid-day meal schemes and ICDS at Re 1/kg.”

SS Roy added that the West Bengal Government also introduced the transport subsidy scheme. He wondered if the Bengal government could procure potatoes directly from farmers against a/c payee cheques, why couldn’t Centre do it.

Click here to read the full transcript of his speech


Discussion in Lok Sabha

Demanding a judicial probe into the death of the farmer, Professor Saugata Roy said the incidents “is the tragedy of the highest order that I can think about.” He was speaking during a discussion in Lok Sabha.

He added that farmer deaths are recurring phenomena in India, with about 12000 farmer suicides over the last few years. This was the first time someone committed suicide in front of TV cameras.

Saugata Roy also criticised the media for not doing anything as the tragedy unfolded before them. He also demanded that the government give compensation to farmers who suffered loss of crops.

“Shall we be bound by bureaucratic rules and practices while people die, commit suicide? I would like a categorical statement from the Government today as to when they are going to give full compensation to the farmers in the States who have been hit by this crop loss, “he said.

Click here for the full transcript of his speech

Saugata Roy speaks in Lok Sabha on the suicide by a farmer in Delhi | Full Transcript

Full Transcript

Respected Madam,

I express deep anguish and sorrow at the suicide of the farmer, Gajendra Singh Rathode, from Jhamdwada village in Dousa district of Rajasthan.

The suicide, took place in full view of television cameras, while a rally was going on. In the suicide note or the note that fell from his pocket, it was revealed that he had lost his crops, his father had turned him out from the house and he did not know how to feed his three children, which was driving him to desperation.

Now, two points emerge from this. One is the immediacy of the matter that how unsympathetic, unreactive our polity and society has become. The man climbed the tree at 12:25 PM. He hanged himself only at 1:50 PM. There were people there. There were policemen there. Nobody took any steps to bring him down, to persuade him to come down. Why? The media was busy filming what he was trying to do. This is the tragedy of the highest order that I can think about.

The Home Minister is here. He has said that he will inquire into the matter. But, I think for a change, he should order a judicial inquiry as to why nobody acted while this drama was played out in full view. This is my first point.

Lastly, Madam, suicide by farmers is nothing new in this country. Every year, according to the data supplied by the Agricultural Ministry, on an average 12 thousand farmers, over the last few years has committed suicide and of them, the maximum numbers are from Maharashtra.

Now, Madam, this man was distressed because his crops have been destroyed. In this House, we have discussed the agrarian crisis. But, may I mention that in February and March many States – Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal – were hit by hail storm followed by untimely excessive rainfall.

Now, this has caused a great distress to farmers and you would be surprised to know that in four days, death of 17 farmers took place in Bareilly alone. 30 farmers were dead in four days in several north Indian States. This hides a deep malice in our system, that when a calamity takes place, the Government appoints a team headed by an additional secretary. That team goes to the place, files a report and in their bureaucratic style, they submit the report. This man and many farmers at the rally were complaining yesterday that they had not received any compensation for their loss of crops.

Now, shall we be bound by bureaucratic rules and practices while people die, commit suicide? I would like a categorical statement from the Government today as to when they are going to give full compensation to the farmers in the States who have been hit by this crop loss.

Madam, what happened yesterday, should not happen again. As Kiritji was saying, that the country cannot be a spectator to such suicide taking place. I would have been very happy, if the Prime Minister, instead of saying it on Twitter, came to the House and express his anguish because this is Lok Sabha, the House of the People and the Prime Minister is the Head of the House, the Leader of the House and Head of the Government. He would have expressed the concern of the Government to the situation developing in the country where deep-seated agrarian crisis is enveloping the farmers in various States.

I have given an Adjournment Motion. Adjournment Motions are normally given by Opposition Parties to criticise the Government, to censure the Government. You have converted it to an all-party discussion. I have no objection to that. If the ruling party members also speak and express their anguish, maybe, their expression will goad the Government to act where no action has been taken.

Let there be a judicial inquiry and let the Prime Minister come out with a statement. The Home Minister is present here. The Delhi Police were responsible for not preventing the suicide yesterday. But, we have to take a holistic view of the situation of the most horrific incident that took place in full view of public eyes and television cameras.

Thank you.