Mumbai: Observing that the state government needs to “move beyond the conventional methods of compensating farmers affected by drought,” the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra and the Union governments to list their crop insurance schemes. The court asked the governments “whether the condition of compulsory insurance can be imposed while granting crop loans to farmers.”
A division bench comprising Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice MS Karnik directed the Maharashtra government to submit details of the arrangements it had made to help drought-affected farmers in the state. The court was hearing a suo motu petition on the increasing farmer suicides in Marathwada.
During the hearing earlier this week, the bench had pulled up the state government for its failure to consider suggestions and implement remedial measures suggested by interveners and the lawyer appointed by the court to assist it in the case.
Advocate Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said that while the government had taken steps to provide drinking water in areas like Vidarbha and Marathwada, it had done little to move beyond “short term measures to address the plight of farmers, particularly in the peak summer months from March to June.”
Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani said the state government had procured water tankers for the affected areas and had decided to extend financial assistance to farmers “out of the funds generated from the Jalyukta Shivar Yojna.” He said that less than 30 percent of the farmers in Maharashtra are currently covered under the centre’s crop insurance scheme.
The interveners in the case, who are agriculture experts and members of various farmers’ associations, informed the bench that there was an urgent need for the state to “increase budgetary allocations for irrigation.”
The high court has scheduled the PIL for further hearing on July 13.