"We wanted to take it up suo motu but now that a petition has been filed it will go before a special social justice bench," a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal issued notice to Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and Maharashtra Government seeking their responses on the PIL filed by advocate Rakesh Uttamchandra Upadhyay.

The PIL seeking protection of fundamental rights of farmers has been filed in the wake of recent media reports on death of 75-year-old farmer Kashiram Bhagwan Indare, who prepared and lit his own funeral pyre in Vidharbha region.

"The pathetic plight of farmers has reached an alarming situation", the plea said, while seeking an immediate relief of Rs 25,000 per hectare of land from Maharashtra Government to the drought-hit farmer families along with a complete or reasonable waiver of crop loans to farmers.

"Direct Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and Maharashtra government to grant immediate relief to the drought hit farmer families of Vidharbha and Marathwada Region by giving complete or a reasonable waiver of crop loans to farmers as the loan amount of individual farmer is very low,” it added.

"Provide them 100-day wage subsidy under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)," it said.

The plea said that Maharashtra was the worst drought affected state where about 3,146 farmers committed suicide in 2013.

"As per the latest figures, the number of farmers who committed suicide in cotton belt of Vidharba region till date has gone upto the figure of 1022. It establishes that daily on an average four farmers are committing suicide in the state," it said quoting a survey.

The petitioner also accused the state government as well as the Centre of not doing anything to solve the "national burning problem".

The plea alleged that there was a nexus between private money lenders, state government and politicians, who collectively exploit and "loot" farmers compelling them to commit suicide.

"The pathetic situation of farmers compelling them to commit suicide is a national problem and the system of subjecting these farmers to such a level is a national shame in as much as the farmers who fed the general public are facing starvation and unnatural death," it said.

Referring to a survey, the plea said, "debt on farmers increases year by year to exorbitant proportion and creates economic stress, which ultimately compels them to commit suicide.

"This shows that even when there is no drought and there is a good cash crop, the sufferer is poor marginal farmer and the benefits are reaped by money lenders and middle men," it added.

The plea also sought a permanent mechanism so that the farmers get competitive remuneration to their farm produce.

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