Already facing tough time due to slow lifting of wheat from the state and central procurement agencies, farmers in Punjab have got no relief from the state government for their damaged crops due to unseasonal rains.
The cash-strapped state government is yet to compensate the farmers for the crop loss from February to April as it is awaiting the Union government’s nod to use the funds from State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF). The Punjab government decided to provide a compensation of Rs 8,000 per acre to the farmers for the crop loss between 75% and 100%.
“The government has sought the Union government’s permission to use funds as it has already asked us to take the Centre’s share of the compensation from the SDRF,” Punjab finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa told HT.
Dhindsa said of the Rs 8,000 compensation per acre for crop loss between 75%-100% up to March (reported on 95,000 acres), the Union government would contribute Rs 3,600 and the rest Rs 4,400 would be given by the state government.
For losses incurred after April 1 (reported on 5,500 acres) Rs 5,400 would be contributed by the Centre and Rs 2,600 by the Punjab government, which amounts to Rs 85 crore. The total compensation comes out to be Rs 120 crore.
Financial commissioner, revenue, Karan A Singh told HT that the CM had written to the Centre to enhance its share of compensation for damage to the wheat crop before March 31 to Rs 5,400 against Rs 3400. “We are awaiting the Centre’s response,” said Singh.
Rs 52.75 crore arranged by revenue dept
Meanwhile, the state revenue department claims of having arranged Rs 52.75 crore to be given as compensation to the farmers. The funds have been allocated to all district expect Amritsar and Pathankot. The financial commissioner said disbursal of compensation would begin by next week. “Sending funds to Amritsar and Pathankot got delayed because rain and hailstorm continued till late April. So, we are re-assessing the losses in these districts, he added.
Earlier, the state government had asked the Punjab Mandi Board to release the state’s share of compensation, but the board denied it saying either it could carry out development activities in the rural areas or fund crop losses, which was not its mandate. Subsequently, the CM asked the state finance department to arrange for funds.
'Wheat variety 3086 resistant to bad weather'
As the wheat crop in the entire state was damaged due to the inclement weather, the wheat variety 3086 developed by the Indian Agriculture and Research Institute was not affected due to the bad weather conditions. This was revealed by a delegation of the Young Farmers’ Association, which met financial commissioner (development) Suresh Kumar.
After confirming it from the state farmers’ commission, Kumar said the variety actually resisted the vagaries of the weather and recorded per acre yield of 24 to 25 quintals as against 16 to 18 quintals recorded in other varieties. Kumar said after a formal confirmation by experts and farmers’ commission, the state agriculture department would procure entire 3086 produce to be used as seed during the next rabi season.