UNITED SIKHS
July 31 2010
16th Savan (Samvat 542 Nanakshahi)
Press Release

Panjab Floods add to Woes in Farmer Suicide Hit Region

"The Panjab government’s compensation package only covers the cost of planting and not loss of income. We call upon the community to donate generously so that debt ridden farmers, who have less than 5 acres, may receive another Rs 5,000 per acre,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS director who led her team to the flood affected areas.
 
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Sangrur - Panjab, India: The recent Panjab floods have hit a serious blow to farmers in a region with high incidence of farmer-suicides, whose freshly sown paddy crops have been destroyed.

“Even though the flood waters have receded, the ground is too wet. 50% of the flooded fields cannot be replanted and those replanted will have their yield reduced by 40% because of late replanting. Further, the next wheat crop will be delayed by a month,” said Chaudhary Ram Dia Singh, a leading social activist and farmer from the village of Bangah.

After the river Ghaggar burst its banks following heavy rainfall, which flooded some 2,00,000 (2 Lakh) acres of crops, a team from UNITED SIKHS visited the village of Bangah in Sangrur, a district often described as the farmer-suicide belt of Panjab. The team set about to assess the damage to crops and to determine how relief can be brought to the region. The village of Bangah alone has suffered complete damage to 2,700 acres out of a total of 3,000 acres of crop. You may watch a video of the flooded areas and interviews here.

 

Manpreet Singh , Panjab Finance Mnister, acknowledged that the state government's compensation package of Rs 5,000 per acre will only cover the farmer's cost of planting and not loss of income.

During an interview with the UNITED SIKHS team, Panjab Finance Minister, Manpreet Singh, said,       
“The Panjab government has announced a compensation package of Rs 5,000 per acre for up to 10 acres.” He acknowledged that this only covered the cost of planting.

“As a result of these floods an affected farmer faces a loss of income of up to Rs 15,000 per acre this year. This loss will worsen the situation of  farmers who are riddled with debt, who generally have less than 5 acres of land, which we fear will make them very vulnerable,” said Inderjit Singh Jaijee, a former MLA of the region, who has been advocating for the rights of farmer suicide victims for some 20 years.

The Panjab government’s compensation package only covers the cost of planting and not loss of income. We call upon the community to donate generously so that debt ridden farmers, who have less than 5 acres, may receive another Rs 5,000 per acre,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS director who led her team to the flood affected areas.

“We will work with the Baba Nanak Charitable Trust of Chandigarh, which has been helping farmer suicide victims, to distribute relief to vulnerable farmers,” she added. 

The Sangrur district, along with its sub-divisions, has the highest rate of farmer suicides in Panjab, where farming families, riddled with debt, often witness the male breadwinner taking his own life as a result.

The recent flood damage to their precious crop will only add to the farmers’ misery and saddle them with further debt. “In this village alone, 33 individuals have committed suicide. When a breadwinner commits suicide, their children are totally ruined”, explains Mr Chaudary Ram Dia Singh. He says, “When a crop fails (from flood), it takes a farmer 5 years to get up on his feet again. Once the farmer recovers, it (the flood) comes again”.
 
You may read a previous press release on UNITED SIKHS’ humanitarian relief work at
http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-06-05-2010-00.html

To donate, please post a cheque to a UNITED SIKHS office nearest to you or donate online at www.unitedsikhs.org/donate

 Issued by:
Sundeep Singh
Film and Media Coordinator
UNITED SIKHS
contact@unitedsikhs.org
+91 9560645010

 
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