Unseasonal rain and hailstorms in several parts of Madhya Pradesh since Saturday have flattened thousands of acres of Rabi crops, officials said on Sunday.
The administration promised to survey the damage and provide financial help but agitated farmers demanded immediate relief for their hail-ruined poppy and wheat crops.
“We have a list of 402 villages in the state affected by hailstorm (in the past)...The villages affected by hailstorm and rainfall which took place in the past three to four days in the state are yet to be identified,” said principal secretary (agriculture welfare and agriculture development) Rajesh Rajora.
“As the sky has started clearing from Sunday, we may start the surveillance process from Monday.”
Harvesting of 65% of wheat crops and 80% of gram and mustard crops has been completed across the state, Rajora said. The hail mostly damaged coriander and lentils and surveillance for these crops has already been ordered, he added.
Villagers, however, rubbished the administration’s claims, saying only 10% of their crops had been harvested before the hailstorms struck.
Several parts of the state, including Ashoknagar, Neemuch, Indore, Umaria, Sidhi and Rewa, witnessed heavy hailstorm on Sunday that severely damaged crops.
Asked about the damage caused by heavy rains, Rajora said, according to data for the past 13 days, only Betul district had recorded more than 12 cm of rainfall.
“Rainfall recorded in other districts is less than 7 cm. There may be some pockets where heavy rains would have thrashed the standing crops. Such villages would be identified during the survey,” he said.
He further said a video conferencing between affected districts would be organised on Monday to access damage.
Agricultural expert GS Kaushal too rubbished the administration’s claim that 65% of wheat crops had been harvested.
The most popular variety of wheat—Sharbati—has suffered major damage due to hail as this is the best time for its harvesting, Kaushal said. Other varieties of wheat may face discoloration and variation in size due to the unseasonal hail and rain.
Meanwhile, the regional meteorological centre in Bhopal issued a warning on Sunday about further hailstorms in Indore, Ujjain, Neemuch, parts of Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, Katni, Umaria, Dindori, Shahdol, Rewa, Sidhi and parts of Chambal and Gwalior divisions.
The sky over southwest Madhya Pradesh was expected to clear by Monday evening while Chambal and Gwalior in the eastern part of the state would witness a significant change in weather by Tuesday evening, said A Kashyapi, the director of the centre.