Crops worth Rs 50 lakh damaged by unseasonal rain: Govt in RS
NEW DELHI, MARCH 4
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]tanding crops in over 50 lakh hectares in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal have been damaged by the recent unseasonal rains, government said today.
Replying to a short duration discussion in Rajya Sabha on this issue, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said the rains in last 3-4 days have damaged crops in states like Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.“At some places there has been rainfall of upto 8 to 10 cms. The most-affected districts include Karnal in Haryana, Amritsar in Punjab, Bareli and Kanpur in UP, Chandrapur, Yavatmal and Pune in Maharashtra, Jabalpur and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh,” he said.
Observing that the states were empowered to release funds to the affected farmers, he said they have funds in this regard and Centre will provide more funds wherever required.
“As per initial reports received from states till now, there has been damage to 27 lakh hectares in Uttar Pradesh, 7.5 lakh hectares in Maharashtra, 14.5 lakh hectares in Rajasthan, 50,000 hectares in West Bengal and 6,000 hectares in Punjab,” the Minister said.
“I am in touch with states where farmers have suffered badly and government is planning bring in a new ‘Krishi Amdani Yojna’ in the next financial year,” he said.
The government is also in the process of introducing a new agriculture income insurance scheme that would be implemented in the coming year, Singh said.
Regarding earlier damage to crops in Maharashtra, he said his Ministry has written to the Home Ministry for release of funds under National Disaster Relief Fund to protect the affected farmers.
As rains are not regarded as natural calamity in the rules for grant of relief to farmers, the Ministry has proposed inclusion of rains in the definition of natural calamity, Singh said, adding “I am hopeful, after Holi states will get relief in this regard.”
Urging members not to do politics over the issue, he said “I don’t have the courage to talk of politics while talking of farmers’ plight…Members should also not talk politics.”
On the damage to crops due to recent rains, he said, SDRF funds were available to states for providing relief and some states like Uttar Pradesh have started doing so.
The Minister said the Centre has earmarked allocation of Rs 675 crore to Uttar Pradesh in the coming year, against Rs 459 crore this fiscal. Rajasthan, he said, has been earmarked more funds to the tune of Rs 1,103 crore as against Rs 730 crore while Punjab has been allocated 390 crore compared to Rs 270 crore in the current fiscal.
Discussions have been held with states on provision of relief to farmers whose crops have suffered damage due to natural calamities, he said, adding that if states decide on their own to grant relief to farmers, the Centre has to grant its approval.
Singh said 10 crore farmers have so far received relief under the crop insurance scheme, but there was a need to change the norms and it was upto the states to decide on which agency would work in their respective states.
He said Madhya Pradesh was the only state which has accepted panchayats as the benchmark for providing relief to farmers in such cases.
“There are shortcomings that need to be removed. We will bring a new insurance scheme soon,” he said while talking of ‘Krishi Amdani Yojna’ that will be implemented this year and was in the final stages.
The Minister also referred to the new pension scheme for farmers under ‘Atal Pension Yojna’ as a gift to farmers on Holi.
Earlier, members, cutting across party lines, expressed serious concern over the plight of the farmers and urged the Centre to take swift action to help them, even as a Congress member termed crop insurance as a “big scam”.
Participating in the short-duration discussion on the issue, Ranjib Biswal (Cong) attacked the NDA Government for reducing the allocation for agriculture sector in the union budget.
“Crop insurance is a big scam… Only selected people are getting compensation,” he said, adding that farmers were falling into the hands of money-lenders.
Alleging that FCI was not procuring foodgrains from farmers, he said the recent hail storm and rains have put the farming community in great misery.
Another Congress MP Hussain Dalwai narrated the crisis in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, where hundreds of farmers’ suicides have been reported in the last few years.
“About 70 per cent of land under mango cultivation was damaged due to unseasonal rains,” he said, while attacking the BJP-led government in Maharashtra and the Centre for not paying adequate attention to resolve the problems.
There were 300 suicides last year, which have increased to 600 this year in the Marathwada region, while in Ratnagiri, they have gone up to 700 to 800 this year, he said.
Some MPs also asked the Government to announce such unseasonal rains as a “national calamity” to provide immediate succour to the affected farmers.
“Unseasonal rains should be considered as natural calamity… Farmers should be provided with pension,” Chandrapal Singh Yadav (SP) stressed.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav urged the Government to take the state agriculture ministers and insurance companies in the loop to provide necessary relief for farmers.
Mehraj Jain (BJP) demanded that the Centre send a team for assessing the extent of damage in affected states, while another BJP member Ram Narayan Dudi emphasised on various measures like rain water harvesting.
Bhupender Yadav (BJP), Vijaylaxmi Sadho (Congress), Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu (Congress) and Sanjay Singh (Congress) also participated in the discussion.