Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced compensation of Rs 20,000 per acre (Rs 50,000 per hectare) to Delhi’s farmers who have lost their crops to untimely rains over the last three months.
Addressing a gathering of about 2,000 residents of outer Delhi’s Mundka, Kejriwal said, “I am told that this (compensation) is the highest ever in the country. This was necessary. Governments have made such policies that nobody wants to be a farmer any more. It was important to send a message to the rest of the country.”
He said farmers are “dying in all states” and he hopes farmers will now raise their voice in other states too.
The organiser of the Aam Aadmi Party’s Gramin Morcha (village front), Deep Khatri, said they had carried out an assessment of the crops destroyed by unseasonal rains and hailstorms over the last three months. Their findings, he said, showed crops spread over approximately 80 acres were destroyed by unexpected climatic patterns, affecting about a lakh families in six Assembly constituencies in rural Delhi.
Khatri said that most of the crops that were ruined included wheat, mustard, spinach, potatoes, onions and some seasonal vegetables. As a result, he said, farmers in 132 villages spread across the constituencies of Narela, Bawana, Mundka, Najafgarh, Matialia and Vikaspuri were adversely affected.
Based on local calculations, Khatri said, a farmer spends Rs 19,000 over an acre of his crop and earns Rs 21,000 after selling it at the local market. “The last time that farmers received compensation for crops destroyed by rain was in 1993. That was Rs 700/acre,” he said.
Wheat farmer Jasbir (56) said his crop over three acres was reduced to nothing. “We are glad that this compensation was announced. At least we will overcome a part of our financial hardships.”
Farmer Charan Singh said his onion crop was washed away and although the compensation may bring him relief, the sowing season has passed and he will have wait a year for a new crop.
Kejriwal, who visited affected villages in Narela, Bawana and Mundka explained that the compensation amount was agreed upon following the survey conducted by government officials. Objections over the extent of crop damage raised by farmers will be decided in panchayat meetings to be attended by local MLAs.
Kejriwal also announced that the government was working on a plan to provide a subsidy to farmers on the purchase of seeds and fertilisers.