The state government is likely to seek an additional package of Rs 3,500 crore from the centre to provide relief and rehabilitation package to the farmers adversely hit by the hail storm and unseasonal rains last week.
Highly placed sources in the government revealed to India Express, “There is no end to the demand for meeting the emergency situation. But apart from the Rs 7,000 crore short term and Rs 34,500 crore for drought, we now want package for hailstorm hit farmers.” The exact amount is still being worked out for the crop losses.
During a discussion in the Legislative Council, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said horticulture crops like grapes, mango, and banana cultivated on 60,000 hectares land were completely damaged due to rains and hailstorm in November-December.
“This is very critical time for the farmers and therefore the government has decided to provide assistance of Rs 25,000 per hectare to the affected horticulture farmers; Rs 15,000 per hectare for affected irrigated land and Rs 10,000 per hectare for non-irrigated land. The cash would be credited to farmer’s bank accounts directly,” Khadse said.
The revenue minister indicated that state government will have to strengthen the weather warning network to periodically alert the farmers. He also said there is need for a mechanism on the lines of methods used in countries like Spain and Italy to protect the fruits from hailstorm through a shed. However, the details will have to be discussed and evolved, he added.
Khadse’s relief and compensation, however, was not acceptable to the Congress and NCP leaders. Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said, “The state government has not explained how much funds it would release for the hailstorm hit farmers. How they intend to immediately provide the funds to the affected farmers.”
According to Ajit Pawar, “The government should immediately appoint guardian ministers who can tour the affected regions and convene a meeting of local MLAs, officials and set the administration to work.” In state council, senior leaders Manikrao Thakre, Sanjay Dutt and NCP’s Sunil Tatkare adopted aggressive posture against government’s apathy towards farmers.
The Government is also considering to provide Rs 5 lakh compensation to the family of debt-ridden farmers who committed suicide, Khadse said, adding that talks are being held with insurance companies on this issue.