The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday declared last week’s unexpected and intense snowfall in the Valley as a natural calamity, enhancing the quantum of relief payable for damage to perennial crops like apples from Rs 18,000 to Rs 36,000 per hectare.
The decision to categorise apple as a perennial crop was taken at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) headed by Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, which took stock of the fact that it takes many years for fruition. The payment of compensation at enhanced rates will not exceed Rs 4,000 per affected farmer having land less than one hectare and it shall cover the sown/planted areas only, an official release said.
Clarifying that snowfall of November 3 and 4 will be considered a natural calamity within the SDRF guidelines, the committee observed that early snowfall has not only affected the returns this year, but it is also likely to affect the returns from horticulture crops for the next 2-3 years.
The existing scale of relief for damaged orchards being quite inadequate, it was considered essential to enhance it as per the extent of SDRF norms for the perennial crops.
The Chief Secretary also directed that Rs 10 crore should be kept at the disposal of Deputy Commissioners as an immediate measure for disbursement of cash relief among bonafide affected people as per SDRF norms.
In another decision aimed at strengthening the district administration’s response mechanism to winter vagaries including snowfall and inclement weather, the committee approved an allocation of Rs. 28 crore for procurement of various machines by the Public Works (Roads and Buildings) Department. These include Rs 16.50 crore for procurement of three sophisticated snow cutter machines, Rs six crore for 15 snow plough machines for distribution to various snowfall prone districts including 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, besides Doda/Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban/Banihal, Lee and Kargil, and another Rs 5.50 crore for 22 bulldozers, one each for all districts of the state.