The state government announced a Rs 1398-crore drought relief package on Friday but the Opposition termed it as a repackaging of old schemes with no immediate relief to farmers.
At a review meeting with agriculture and water resource departments, chief minister Raghubar Das directed officials to set up a task force in each district to review the progress of relief work every week.
Officials said Jharkhand faced 38% crop loss due to scanty monsoon rain. Of the 260 blocks, 64 suffered 50% crop loss and 62 faced 40% crop damage.
The relief package includes funds for agriculture, water resource and rural development departments besides amounts pending with insurance companies.
The package does not offer relief to farmers who faced crop loss during the kharif season.
State agriculture minister Randhir Singh said a report on agriculture during the kharif season had been sent to the Centre urging it to declare Jharkhand as drought-hit. “A central team will visit Jharkhand to assess the situation. If the state qualifies the Centre’s parameters, we will get funds for crop loss,” Singh said.
A state will be declared drought-hit if it meets any of the three parameters out of four prescribed by the Centre. The four parameters include 50% rainfall deficit in June and July, less than 50% crop sowing coverage, normalised difference water index of 0.1 and normalised difference vegetation index of 0.4, disaster management department officials said.
The agriculture minister announced a series of relief schemes for farmers including distribution of seed for rabi crops at 75% subsidy, 50% subsidy on diesel for farmers using pump sets for irrigation and construction of 773 check dams at a cost of Rs 513 crore. The government will distribute 62,000 quintals of seed for rabi crops among farmers, he said.
Singh said the government would return the premium amount of Rs 12 crore to around 4.5 lakh farmers covered under the national agriculture insurance scheme. The government would also pay the premium amount of Rs 20 crore, pending since 2010, to insurance companies which in turn would disburse Rs 56 crore to farmers against their insurance claims, he said.
“By December this year, agricultural equipment banks will be set up at all blocks at a cost of Rs 16 crore,” Singh said.
Reacting to the relief package, state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat said, “Farmers and marginal farmers have lost their deposits after crop loss. This relief package doesn’t help enhance their cash flow.” He said the relief package would fail to rein in migration of farmers to other states for jobs.
Extent of crop loss
Paddy - 38%
Maize - 27%
Pulses - 17%
Oilseeds - 13.5%