Shocking deaths of farmers in fields

Shocking deaths of farmers in fields

310 electrocuted in the state so far this yearA Erratic power supply, poor transmission network causing fatalities Farmers poorly informed...

310 electrocuted in the state so far this yearA
  • Erratic power supply, poor transmission network causing fatalities
  • Farmers poorly informed about supply schedule for farm sector
  • Distressed families not given any ex-gratia, despite appeals
Patan Afzal Babu Hyderabad: The peasant community in the State, already reeling under crippled finances caused by repeated crop failures, non-remunerative prices, dominance of middlemen, and inadequate institutional assistance that have been driving them into debt trap, is facing yet another potential killer. That is electrocution. In fact, electrocution at the irrigation wells accounts for the highest number of farmers' deaths after suicides in distress. As many as 310 farmers have been either electrocuted or died of power shock while working in the fields. Their deaths are blamed on erratic power supply and poor transmission network.
Another reason is since peasants are poorly informed about the power supply timings, they are increasing falling prey to this problem. When the power supply is restored suddenly, those who are working on non-functional pump sets get either electrocuted or injured when they are thrown into the field by the power surge. The victims are not entitled to any sort of ex gratia or compensation from the government. Another tragedy that befalls farmers is when they are groping in the dark in their fields in the absence of electric power supply. If they touch power lines when the supply is restored they die on the spot. According to officials, most of the farmers were electrocuted when they were either trying to switch on agriculture pumps or heading towards their farms at nights. Though the government claims to have initiated a slew of measures to prevent the 'unnatural' deaths of peasants, the incidence of electrocutions has been on the rise. Deaths due to electrocution touched 310 mark so far this year as against 270 last year. But the peasant bodies have put the number at 950 so far this year. They have claimed that at least three farmers die of electrocution in the State every day. The officials of APTransco told The Hans India that most of the electrocuted deaths were reported in the districts where farmers depend on borewells connected with pumpsets for irrigation. Mahbubnagar, Kurnool, Anantapur, Nalgonda, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Adilabad , Medak , Srikakulam and Ranga Reddy districts have reported the maximum number of deaths. In all, 60 such cases were registered officially in the afore-mentioned mentioned districts from April to August last year. Officials sources claim that 270 farmers died in 2011-12 250 in 2010-11, 220 in 2009-10, 230 in 2008-09, 220 in 2007-08 and 200 in 2006. Electricity-related fatalities were comparatively high in Telangana districts, where the dependence is more on groundwater. The region accounts for some 19 lakh pumpsets as against a total of 31 lakhs in the State. There are some seven lakh pumpsets in the four districts of Rayalaseema region. All India Kisan Majdoor Sabha (AIKMS) Secretary V Prabhakar said the farmers were forced to stay in the fields in nights as the Energy department was not following the power supply schedule announced for agriculture in villages. Most of the deaths were reported in the nights when power was supplied. The electrocutions were caused mostly when the farmers came in contact with the equipment. In some cases, transformers got burnt due to high voltage and electric wires fell on the fields. The sudden increase in power voltage at nights also damages the meters and the motors frequently. The farmers' associations also alleged that ex-gratia was not paid to the victims' families. There was no provision to provide ex-gratia in such cases, Bharatiya Kisan Sabha State Secretary M Sridhar Reddy. He said the BKS and other farmers associations have been fighting to force the government to pay Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia immediately to the families of the victims. But the government has remained unmoved over the issue so far.
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