300 dead, and counting

  • 14/07/2004

300 dead, and counting INDEBTED farmers in Andhra Pradesh (AP) badly need relief. The state's legislative assembly has passed a bill imposing a moratorium on debt recovery, but farmers' suicides are not abating. The distribution of the Rs 1,50,000 relief package announced by the Congress government is very slow, and typically bureaucratic. The media coverage of the relief measures is way off the mark, even in AP. The real reasons for the crisis are not getting enough attention, not just in the media but also among better-informed circuits, like academia.

The new government in AP has been going to town about investing in irrigation projects and cloud-seeding. No doubt, irrigation needs serious attention, given that failed borewells are a prominent cause of indebtedness in the state, especially in the dryland regions of Rayalseema and Telangana. But if all the proposed canal irrigation projects are completed (as if by miracle), about half the arable land would still lack irrigation. If the government is serious about working on long-term solutions, it will have to promote decentralised water management, be it irrigation tanks or watershed development. The previous government had major programmes for this, but it wasn't serious about their implementation.

How the government moves on land tenancy and supply of inputs

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