Thiruvananthapuram: Congress chief and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to provide assistance to the family of a farmer, who committed suicide allegedly due to non-repayment of loans, and also conduct an inquiry into the matter. In reply to Rahul's letter, Pinarayi said the issue needs to be raised in Parliament.
V D Dinesh Kumar, 53, a farmer, in Neeravaram, Panamaram Panchayat in Wayanad, died after consuming some poisonous substance, police said on May 25.
His relatives said that financial burden had forced him to take the extreme step.
Gandhi, in his letter to Pinarayi dated May 28, said he was "deeply saddened" by the farmer's suicide. He requested the state government to conduct an inquiry and extend financial support to the family.
Police aid that Kumar had taken a loan of Rs 10 lakh from three banks and was reportedly facing recovery proceedings.
"Kumar's case isn't an isolated one. There have been a spate of farmer suicides in Wayanad, due to an inability to repay loans," Gandhi had said in his letter.
"What is disturbing is that while the government of Kerala has announced a moratorium on repayment of farm loans till December 31, 2019, yet farmers are still being pressured and hounded by loan collection agents," the letter said.
The Congress chief said it was important to consider "long-term measures" to free farmers from the "vicious debt trap" given the devastating impact of the last year's floods.
"I offer you my fullest support and cooperation in finding concrete long-term solutions to the critical issues Kerala's farmers are faced with and in ensuring every farmer in Kerala lives a life of dignity," Gandhi said.
In reply to Rahul's letter, Pinarayi said the issue of providing relief to the families of farmers, who committed suicide over failure to repay bank loans, needs to be raised in Parliament.
The Union government needs to take a stand regarding the agricultural loans taken by farmers from commercial banks, he said in a letter. A copy of the letter was released to the media.
Pinarayi said since the farmers across the country were facing "severe distress" due to their mounting debts and difficulty in repaying the loans availed by them, the matter needs to be raised in Parliament.
"This issue needs to be raised in the Parliament and I hope that you will join us in taking up the issue of relief for the debt affected families," he said.
The chief minister said that since outstanding loans from commercial banks come under the SARFAESI Act, it is for the Centre to take a considered stand regarding the farmers' debts.
He also said he had asked the Wayanad district collector to conduct a detailed inquiry into the suicide of the farmer and submit a report to the government for taking further action, including providing financial assistance.
Pointing out that the state was making continued efforts to help the farmers, he said there was a moratorium on repayment of farmers' loans till December this year.