Centre rejects Jharkhand’s drought relief proposal, no compensation for 7 lakh farmers
More than seven lakh Jharkhand farmers would be deprived of compensation for crop loss due to drought last year because the Centre has rejected state’s proposal to declare 55 blocks across seven districts as drought-hit, officials said on Sunday.
In April this year, the Jharakhand cabinet had passed a proposal seeking relief according to the drought manual after it approved 55 blocks across seven districts- Bokaro, Chatra, Pakur, Deoghar, Giridih, Godda and Hazaribag, as drought hit. The state disaster management department sent the proposal to the Centre in May
Joint secretary of state disaster management department Manish Tiwary said, “We had sent the proposal to the Centre but it has rejected it.”
On farmers’ compensation for crop loss, he said, “Disaster management department cannot give the compensation, as it gets the fund from the Centre. If we don’t get funds from the Centre, how could we give it to farmers?”
The state could not devise a relief package because of the Centre’s rejection of its proposal. “The package could not be finalized, as the request to declare drought itself was rejected.”
Raju Mahto, 45, a farmer from Bokaro said, “We had already lost hope for the compensation against our crop loss. We faced loss in August-September last year but the government sent its request to the Centre in April this year.” He said he had sown paddy on one two acres of land which was damaged due to scanty rainfall last year.
The Centre has rejected the state’s proposal, as the process of declaring drought by the state had already expired on October 31 last year, officials said.
As per the Centre’s manual, the state could declare drought following three parameters----Trigger-1 (rainfall parameter), Trigger-2 (impact indicators such as crop, remote sensing, soil moisture and hydrology, and Verification (ground truth).
The state had been asked to complete required parameters including cabinet approval for drought declaration and send its recommendation to the Centre by October 31, officials said.
As per the norms, the state cabinet has to declare drought and send its request to Centre for assistance. Based on the state’s claim, a team from the Centre visits the state to assess the ground situation of drought and recommend for assistance.
The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) alleged that the previous BJP government neither declared drought nor did it send its request for assistance to the centre even after expiring the deadline for recommending drought.
“Since it was election time, the then BJP government was engaged in its branding. Farmers were not in the priority list of the BJP government. Now, lakhs of farmers would suffer due to the anti-farmer approach of the previous government,” said JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattachargya.
The BJP, however, blamed the current JMM-Congress government for the farmers’ loss. “Everyone knows that the drought proposal could not be sent to the Centre then due to the model code of conduct coming into effect for the assembly polls. The current government must have pursued it after the model code of conduct was withdrawn in January. Had the Hemant Soren government sent the proposal in January or February, farmers would not have suffered now,” said BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo.