Unseasonal rains and hailstorms that have been lashing parts of the state over the past three weeks have destroyed 30 per cent of the crop under rabi cultivation.
Official statistics reveal that crops over 18 lakh hectares of cultivated land spread over 28 districts in Maharashtra have been damaged.
A central team that visited Maharashtra to assess the damage will now submit its report to an empowered group of union ministers on or before March 19.
On Saturday, a day after he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding Rs 5000 crore in relief for towards the damage caused by the unusual spell, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan urged party workers and well wishers to refrain from putting up hoardings, banners and sending bouquets and gifts on his birthday which falls on March 17. “The should instead contribute to relief funds,” Chavan announced.
“In several parts of the state, the farmers have been reeling under severe drought for two consecutive years. They had barely come out of it, when the hailstorms struck unexpectedly,” Chavan said. The chief minister also requested citizens to contribute to relief funds.
Senior officials said the central team expressed satisfaction of government’s efforts in disaster management. While the ruling alliance, which is also wary of the fallout in LS elections, is pushing for early disbursal of relief, senior government officials beleived that meeting this demand would be difficult.
The state government would also needed a consent from the Election Commission before declaring additional relief from its kitty.
Meanwhile, a delegation of senior Congress leaders, led by party president Manikrao Thakre, met Chavan at his official residence demanding implementation of a four-fold relief programme, which included cash compensation for crop loss, waiver of interest on crop loans for a year and waiver of electricity bills, and repairs to damaged electrical equipment. Chavan had also requested the package containing the same four relief measures. Complaints regarding harassment of farmers in some parts while recording panchnamas was also made by delegation members.
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