The Punjab government has sought a comprehensive relief package in terms of special central assistance of Rs 717 crore to compensate its farmers for the losses they incurred due to the recent untimely rains and hailstorms.
In a letter to the secretary, department of agriculture and cooperation of the union government, Punjab agriculture commissioner Balwinder Singh Sidhu has urged the Centre to grant this compensation which would not only encourage the farmers in this hour of crisis but would lead them to work harder for ensuring food security of the nation, a spokesman stated here on Thursday.
As per the proposal submitted to the Centre for the compensation of losses incurred at Rs 717 crore, the state has projected damage to the field crops over 2.6 lakh hectares, assessed at a loss of Rs 628 crore, loss of the fodder crops amounting to Rs 46 crore and the loss of horticulture crops over 10,177 acres estimated at Rs 43 crore.
The Punjab agriculture commissioner further stated that compensation at the rate of Rs 3,600 per acre was being provided by the state government, and this needed to be enhanced upto Rs 10,000 per acre due to high input cost incurred by the farmers and excessive damage to Rabi crops.
The state government further pleaded that the compensation be as per the norms cited in a notification letter of the union ministry of home affairs, dated November 28, 2013. The norms for compensation cited therein were apparently aimed to enable the farmers for sowing of next crop.
The agriculture commissioner further pointed out that in Punjab, the farmers suffered damage to their standing crops which have mainly been waterlogged or flattened because of hailstorms, heavy rains and high velocity winds. “Such a loss may not lead us to conclude that the loss was 50% or more, but certainly heavy damage has been caused to realizable value of the crop due to decrease in yield and hence it was strongly felt that the farmers needed to be adequately compensated in this hour of crisis.
“So far as area with loss of 50% or more is concerned, would be known only after the state revenue inspectors would accomplish the task of special ‘girdawari’ (harvest inspection),” Sidhu stated.