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...CM faces relief storm

THE FRESH bout of hailstorm has rattled the State Government, which was still trying to assess the enormity of the damage to crops.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 13:01 IST

THE FRESH bout of hailstorm has rattled the State Government, which was still trying to assess the enormity of the damage to crops.

“It is difficult to assess the damage completely, given the continuous spells of hailstorms,” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan admitted while talking to newsmen at his residence today.

Before today's destruction due to hailstorm, the Government had roughly assessed losses at Rs 2,500 crore. So far 85 people had died due to unseasonal rains that accompanied lightning and hailstorm.

Though the State Government was gearing up to meet the situation, providing relief to the affected farmers remained a daunting task.

The Chief Minister visited some affected districts, announced relief measures, warned action against officers and assured that funds would not be a constraint in mitigating the suffering of the farmers.

The State Government has not been able to persuade the Centre to release funds for the hail-hit farmers. It has already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. “I have sought an appointment with the Prime Minister. But not a penny has come from the Centre so far,” Chouhan said.

Earlier, speaking to Bhopal BJP workers at his residence the Chief Minister, while hitting out at the Centre, said a couple of development schemes could wait but the Government has to ensure immediate relief to the farmers in the hour of crisis.
However, he admitted that it was not possible to fully compensate farmers for the damage to their crops.

Chouhan said the rain god seemed to be testing the State Government and had posed a challenge. “We have accepted the challenge. The Government has increased the relief amount substantially. Farmers were paid Rs 3,000 per hectare while the amount in the prosperous State like Punjab is Rs 1,825,” he told the party workers.

Repeatedly warning the officials that any laxity and irregularity on their part would not be tolerated, Chouhan said he had suspended a tahsildar and some personnel of the irrigation department for dereliction of duty.
He said he had instructed officials to assess the damage to crops not only in fields but in threshing ground (barns) also. Even the harvested crops damaged would be considered for assessment of damage.

He said crops of vegetable, fruit, Dangarwadi and of muskmelon and watermelon damaged by unseasonal rains and hailstorm would also be included in the survey for relief. He said relief at the rate of Rs 250 per tree would be given and the maximum relief would be Rs 20,000.

In case of damage to papaya, banana, grape, pomegranate trees relief at the rate of Rs 5,000 per hectare would be given. He said the Revenue Book of Circulars had been amended to provide greater relief to affected farmers and impartial and actual assessment of loss to crops was being ensured to facilitate adequate relief to the farmers.

He said State Government had suggested that patwari halka should be considered as entire unit for crop insurance. Now the Union Minister Sharad Pawar had expressed opinion on the same line but it would be launched from the next season.

He said State Government would support marriages of girls of poor families and members of the council of ministers were being assigned the responsibility of Kanyadan.

Insurance cover had been provided to the poor to ensure immediate financial assistance to their families in case of an accident.

Various schemes had been implemented for economic betterment of the poor. The State Government would bear the expenses on treatment of serious diseases in cases of poor people, he added.