The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday declared the untimely and intense snowfall in the Valley last week a natural calamity and enhanced the quantum of relief payable for damages to perennial crops, like apple, from Rs 18,000 to Rs 36,000 per hectare.
The State Executive Committee of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), headed by Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, observed that early snowfall had not only affected the returns this year, but was also likely to affect the returns from horticulture crops for next two to three years. The panel clarified that snowfall on November 3 and 4 will be considered a natural calamity within the SDRF guidelines.
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.
The SDRF meet also took the decision to categorise apple as perennial crop and took note 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.
In another decision aimed at strengthening the district administration’s response mechanism to winter vagaries, including snowfall and inclement weather, the committee approved allocation of Rs 28 crore for procurement of various machines by the Public Works Department.