Maharashtra's onion farmers and growers of several other crops, whose harvest was hit by the recent unseasonal rain, finally have reason to cheer. A Rs600-crore aid package was announced by the Centre on Friday after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to plead the case of the state where crops on more than 11.46 lakh hectares were damaged, affecting nearly 29 lakh farmers.
The state government has assessed the damage due to unseasonal rains at Rs5,996 crore, which includes damage to crops, orchards and roads.
The PM announced Rs400-crore central assistance from the national disaster relief fund after an all-party delegation led by the chief minister met him. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who accompanied the delegation, also sanctioned Rs200-crore additional financial assistance, especially for horticulture crops.
The state had announced a relief package of Rs1,000 crore for the farmers earlier this month. The Centre's aid will come in handy as arranging Rs1,000 crore would be difficult for the debt-ridden state, which does not have additional budgetary allocation for paying compensation.