THE Maharashtra government has decided to provide an additional package of Rs 1,012 crore to farmers cultivating cotton and soyabean, the two crops that were badly hit by the drought and still remained uncovered under crop insurance schemes.
At a meeting on Tuesday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave sanction to three proposals mooted by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Water Conservation and the Ministry of Water Resources to scale up the measures undertaken to mitigate drought-related problems.
The CM said the preparations to effectively tackle water scarcity-related problems and adequately compensate the farmers who suffered losses in kharif production for the year 2015 had to be expedited.
The government will grant Rs 647 crore to cotton farmers in the Aurangabad and Nashik divisions, and Rs 365 crore to soyabean farmers in the Amravati and Nashik divisions as compensation for the losses they suffered last year.
The additional aid of Rs 1,012 crore will be over and above the relief of Rs 3,049 crore that the Union government has sanctioned for farmers in Maharashtra.
Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse said, “Those farmers who have taken crop insurance will be anyway eligible for monetary compensation as per the insurance policy. However, even those farmers who don’t have an insurance to compensate for crop losses will be eligible for 50 per cent of the amount that is given under crop insurance.”
This aid will be given to farmers with a landholding of up to 20 hectares. However, farmers who have received compensation for crop loss under some schemes would not be considered again, Khadse added.
The government is still ascertaining the exact losses for rabi season. The primary report suggests 650 villages, mostly in Solapur, is worst hit in rabi season. The final tally will be done after March 15, 2016.
The cabinet also gave its approval to sanctioning money for 51,500 farm ponds in the first phase in drought-hit districts. The government assistance will be of Rs 50,000 per farm pond. The farmers can apply online and get the sanction. The state has set aside Rs 207 crore for 2016-17.
Earlier, responding to a supplementary demand, the government had allocated Rs 50 crore in December 2015.
Rural Development and Water Conservation Minister Pankaja Munde said, “Our policy is to sanction farm ponds to every farmer who comes forward and makes a demand. The ‘shettaal’ (farm pond) is to create water bodies for sustainable agriculture in the drought-prone districts of Maharashtra.”
The state cabinet also amended the Maharashtra Water Conservation Bill to enhance the share capital from Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore to facilitate completion of pending irrigation projects.
However, some of the projects that proved to be non-feasible have been scrapped. Of the total 2,300 projects worth Rs 4,137 crore sanctioned on paper during the previous regime (Congress-NCP), only a total of works worth Rs 900 crore have been retained in Konkan district.
The disbursement of funds will be based on projects requirement suitable to every region, considering its geographical conditions.
Under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, the government approved traditional agriculture development programmes. It will help in low production cost and high farm income to be taken up by group of farmers set up in villages. The state will provide 40 per cent share. Rs 6,652 lakh has been sanctioned under the mission.