The damage caused to Rabi crops in Rajasthan's Hadauti region by unseasonal rains and hailstorms is likely to deal a crippling blow to the local economy, with traders estimating the losses could run into hundreds of crores of rupees.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of the region, where farming has been boosted by a canal irrigation network fed by the waters of the Chambal river.
Rabi or winter crops are cultivated over 11 lakh hectares in Hadauti and the recent rains damaged wheat, mustard and coriander crops.
Ashok Maheshwari, general secretary of the Kota Vyapar Mahasangh, told Hindustan Times that the economy is dependent on agriculture as there are no major industries in the region.
The loss of Rabi crops could lead to losses as high as Rs 1000 crore, he claimed.
"After selling their Rabi crops, farmers purchase items such as automobiles, clothes, jewellery, construction materials, general merchandise and other commodities every year but this year, the farmers will not have enough money to buy such commodities and this will have a cascading effect on related trades," he said.
Farmers' leader Dashrath Kumar claimed the damage to crops in Hadauti region could even touch the Rs 2000-crore mark.
Two farmers in Hadauti allegedly committed suicide while 12 more died of shock after the rains destroyed their crops.
Om Prakash Meena, a 37-year-old farmer of Theekriya village in Bundi district, died of cardiac arrest on Monday evening, police said.
Meena had gone to his fields for the first time since the rains and was shocked to see his damaged crops.
Ashok Sharma of the Rajasthan Khadya Vyapar Mahasangh said both farmers and grain merchants were likely to be hit severely as the unseasonal rains were expected to impact the quality and quantity of wheat in Hadauti.
"The economy revolves around the money generated from Rabi crops and the crop damage will certainly hit the economy," he claimed.
Ramgopal Meena, secretary of the Hadauti Kisan Union, said farmers make purchases for marriages on the occasion of Akha Teej but many weddings were now hanging in the balance following the damage to crops.
Meanwhile, MP from Kota, Om Birla, said on Wednesday that farmers whose Rabi crops were destroyed by recent rains and hailstorms did not even have food grains to feed their families.
He said he had floated the idea of collecting food grains through public contributions to help the farmers.