The state government, it is learnt, has the entrusted the arduous task of completing the census to the Punjab Agricultural University. As per Dr R.S. Sidhu, head of the Department of Economics, PAU, “The state government has asked us to do the work and we have taken it up as a research project. Though whole of Punjab is to be covered under the study, the state government has asked us to do a pilot project in two districts of Punjab, Gurdaspur and Sangrur initially. For this, we have been given a tentative monetary allocation of Rs 9 lakhs but the state government has assured us that the finances needed to complete the project, will be provided. The pilot report has to be submitted in four months from the day we begin,” informed Dr Sidhu, who said that the project will begin in the coming fortnight.
About the pilot project, Dr Sidhu informed, “Earlier the chosen districts were Barnala and Sangrur, which have now been changed to Gurdaspur and Sangrur. While the entire state has about 12,000 villages, in our pilot project itself we will be covering nearly 1,500 villages of Gurdaspur and around 575 villages of Sangrur. Thus survey will be door-to-door while the help of other departments like that of revenue and police would be taken for logistics.”
On the need of having such a census, Dr P.S. Rangi, consultant, Punjab farmers Commission, said, “Punjab till date has no official figure on farmers’ suicides. The NGOs give one figure, the farm unions other and the deputy commissioners a different one. Hence a census like this one was needed to frame policies for farmers under debt and families affected by farmers’ suicides.” Dr R.S. Sidhu meanwhile also added, “While PAU will handle the pilot project on its own, yet for the final census, it will take help of other universities also if needed. For now, the farmer suicides that have occurred after April 1, 2005 will be taken into account and suicides of farm labourers have not been included in this census.”