Currupt officials exploit the grieving families of dead farmers
In Uttar Pradesh's most impoverished region, Bundelkhand, government officials
feed off not just the living but also the dead. Headlines Today has exposed how
corrupt officials exploit the grieving families of farmers, who have committed
In a visit to Bundelkhand in 2008, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi repeated
a phrase borrowed from his father Rajiv Gandhi: "Out of 100 paise, only 15 paise
reaches the poor".
While travelling through this dustbowl in UP, it is easy to see why. As
Headlines Today weaved its way through large tracts of Bundelkhand, it
encountered a familiar story.
Bundelkhand is the place that was most frequented by politicians last year
including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Eighty per cent of the population in
Bundelkhand is dependent on agriculture out of which 76 farmers are debt-ridden.
Bundelkhand also got a relief package of Rs 7000 crore and yet eight out of
every 10 farmers cannot repay their loan. Above all, this is the place where
1400 farmers have committed suicide in the last two-and-a-half years, but the UP
government has not acknowledged even a single one of them.
Says Omprakash Singh, DC, Chitrakoot-Banda region, says, "Not a single farmer in
Bundelkhand has committed suicide because of debt. We have investigated a lot of
cases and found out that the reason for suicides is not indebtedness but
personal reasons like family disputes and illness."
Q: It has been reported that a lot of government officials are taking commission
in the relief schemes for the farmers. Are you aware of it?
DC: We have no such information. If we get complaints, we take action, but we
haven't got one till date."
It's a claim that is disputed by several families in the area.
"The monsoon does not reach on time, which wasn't the case back then. Those who
have committed suicide incurred heavy losses in farming. They couldn't repay
their loans and have to sell their land at times. Just a meal of plain chapattis
will at least cost Rs 10. How will they eat? The money borrowed for seeds itself
is not reimbursed, forget the profit," says Ganesh Prasad Dwivedi, a farmer.
The UP government has schemes that BPL families can apply for if the earning
member of the family dies. The first step in claiming this compensation is to
acquire a nakal or a land record. The naked dance of corruption begins at this
Headlines Today accompanied families of impoverished farmers, who had committed
suicide but were still struggling to get compensation under several schemes. It
was winess to the rot, caught on camera.
Surajdeen (kin of a farmer): So, how much do I need to pay you?
Munna Lal (a clerk): I told you earlier also, Rs 3,000.
Surajdeen: Rs 3,000?
Munna Lal nods his head.
The nakal or land record is crucial to get welfare payments from schemes like
the Krishi Bima Yojana, which compensates money to the BPL farmers according the
size of the land they possess.The widow's pension scheme entitles the dead farmer's wife to Rs 300 per month.
The Parivarik Labh Yojana grants a compensation of Rs 20,000 to the next of kin
of a dead farmer. Finally, there's the Anusuchit Jaati Shaadi Anudaan yojana.
Chief Minister Mayawati's flagship scheme is meant to support BPL farmers
financially for the wedding of their daughters. A sum of Rs 20,000 is handed out
when all the papers along with the wedding card are submitted.
Shockingly, Headlines Today discovered, not one scheme remains untainted by
Raja Bhaiya of Vidyadham Samiti says "There has been a drought for the last
eight years. We have carried out an independent survey according to which 500
farmers have committed suicide and 800 people have died due to starvation in the
last two years. The more the number of relief schemes, the more chance for
officials to propagate corruption."
The nonchalance of the government is limitless. It demands alcohol for granting
an audience, token money for appointments and a big fat amount for sanctioning
relief schemes from farmers who live on less than Rs 30 a day. For those
battling abject poverty, life in Bundelkhand is worse than death itself.
Government schemes meant for those below the poverty line yield nothing till
palms are greased. It is easy to turn a blind eye, since 1400 suicides have gone
unacknowledged by the government.