Unseasonal rainfall over the past two days across Maharashtra has cost its farmers dearly. Primary estimates show a loss of rabi crop worth more than Rs 1,000 crore, with damage on more than 40,000 hectares — including 17,000 hectares in Yavatmal district alone.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held a review meeting of all the district collectors via video conferencing on Monday. He told the district administrations to conduct panchnamas in the next two days and submit a report to the government at the earliest so that farmers can be helped financially immediately. Except for a few districts in Marathwada, almost all the others have suffered crop damage.
The rain, which was followed by thunder and high velocity winds, damaged rabi crops, including wheat, jowar and gram, in most parts of the state. Horticultural crops such as Alphonso mangoes, promegranades, cashewnuts and grapes have been damaged in Nashik and Konkan districts. Yavatmal, one of the districts with the highest rate of farmer suicides, has suffered the maximum loss. Of the three deaths caused by lightning, two are from the district.
According to sources in the relief and rehabilitation department, the district collectors and divisional commissioners have been asked to release financial assistance from the district reserve funds and the district planning committee funds. “The issue is expected to be discussed in the state Cabinet on Tuesday. We are expecting primary figures to be made available by tomorrow, based on which financial help may be announced,” he said.
“Yavatmal, Bhandara, Amravati, Nashik, Pune and Ratnagiri have been severely hit. The rabi crops that were ready for harvesting have been damaged, while in some cases, the quality of produce is expected to suffer. In some villages, pucca houses have been damaged. Once the panchanamas are finalised, we will be able to ascertain the financial help,” said Swadheen Kshatriya, chief secretary.
This has been the third such natural calamity in the past six months. “Kharif crop on more than 1.12 lakh hectare in 24,000 villages was damaged because of hailstorms and spells of unseasonal rainfall between September and November last year.
The state government had announced a package of Rs 7,000 crore, of which financial assistance of Rs6,013 crore has been sought from the Central government. With the no Central assistance in sight, the state released funds of Rs 4000 crore, which is to be disbursed before March 7.
“We have been told that a hefty package, close to what has been demanded, will soon be announced by the Central government. Funds would not be the problem in this hour of crisis for the farmers. Soon after the panchnamas are done, we will release the funds. Till then, the funds with the district collectors will be utilised,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, finance minister.