Announcing one of the biggest relief packages for crop-loss in Gujarat, the state government on Saturday jacked up the financial aid to farmers hit by unseasonal rain during the last one month by over 440 percent to Rs 3795 crore. This package covers all the 56.36 lakh farmers in 18369 villages of the state.
“On Friday evening, after a detailed meeting with the chief minister Vijay Rupani at his bungalow, it was decided to approve Rs 3795 crore relief package for farmers affected by unseasonal rains between October 15 and November 20, 2019. The unseasonsal rains that happened during this period caused post-harvest loss to the farmers… The central government will be providing Rs 2154 crore grant under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), while Rs 1641 crore will come from the state’s budget… It is for the first time that all the farmers in all the villages of Gujarat is getting relief,” said Nitin Patel while addressing media persons at the circuit house here.
This package builds on the Rs 700 crore relief which was announced by the state government on November 13.
Interestingly, the package covers all the farmers in the state including those who did not clock any losses in their farms. The package also covers those farmers who have taken crop insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). When clarity was sought on the issue, Punamchand Parmar, Additional Chief Secretary told The Indian Express later, “Farmers who are insured will also get the benefit.” The Indian Express had already reported that a phenomenal Rs 3400 crore has been paid as insurance premium to four insurance companies during the Kharif season 2019. This includes Rs 400 crore premium directly paid by an estimated Rs 19 lakh farmers and an additional Rs 3000 crore which has been paid on behalf of the farmers by the state and central governments.
Unseasonal rain effect
When Gujarat resumed procurement of kharif produce, especially groundnuts based on MSP, earlier this week, it encountered a higher rate of rejection, as farm produce was damaged by unseasonal rain triggered by cyclones. The rain had forced the government to suspend procurement for a fortnight at the beginning of this month. With many farmers left with rain-drenched produce and opposition Congress trying to take political advantage of it, especially in Saurashtra, and with groups such as Bharatiya Kisan Sangh blaming the state government for its lackadaisical attitude, the government, it is learnt, had to increase the package.
Bifurcating the relief package, Patel said there were 28.61 lakh farmers in 9416 villages of 125 talukas of 29 districts who will get a total of Rs 2481 crore as relief. These farmers fall in regions where more than one-inch rain rainfall was recorded during the last one month. Under the SDRF norms, these farmers will be given Rs 6800 per hectare, up to a maximum of two hectares. Of the Rs 2481 crore, the central government will pay Rs 1860 crore and the state will provide the remaining Rs 621 crore.
In addition, there are 4.7 lakh farmers in 1463 villages of 42 talukas of 23 districts where the automatic weather stations located in clusters of Agriculture department recorded more than one-inch rainfall. All farmers who fall in this region will a total relief of Rs 392 crore (Rs 294 crore will come from central government and remaining from state government) where each farmer will get Rs 6800 per hectare, up to two a maximum of two hectares as per the SDRF norms. In the same 42 talukas, the remaining 1675 villages where less than one-inch rainfall was recorded, a total of 5.95 lakh farmers will get Rs 238 crore relief (from the state government’s budget) wherein each farmer will be paid Rs 4000.
“In the remaining 21 districts which comprise of 81 talukas and 5814 villages, it has come to our notice that scattered rainfall has caused some losses. So we have decided to cover all the remaining 17.10 lakh farmers who will be paid a total of Rs 684 crore (from state government’s budget), with each farmer getting Rs 4000… We have also included farmers who have not clocked any losses and this is the first time our government is giving the relief to all farmers of all the villages of the state,” Patel added.
Only three talukas, covering Ahmedabad, Surat and Junagadh cities are not part of this package. The deputy chief minister said the details of the all the farmers will be taken online and money will be paid directly through RTGS into their bank accounts.