Pink bollworm-hit farmers yet to get relief in Maharashtramumbai Updated: Apr 25, 2018 10:27 IST
A farmer shows a cotton ball infected by the pink ballworm pest in Fatehpur village of Amravati district. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Five weeks after the state issued a government resolution (GR) to compensate farmers for the loss suffered due to the pink bollworm attack last year, no amount has yet been released to its district administrations. More than 45 lakh farmers have to be compensated for losses amounting to about Rs3,373 crore towards loss of crop on more than 42 lakh hectares.
After ground-level punchnamas and assessment of the loss of the cotton crop of the pink bollworm, the state government had, in December 2017, announced to compensate the farmers with Rs30,800 per hectare. Of this, Rs6,800 a hectare was to be from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), Rs8,000 from the crop insurance cover and Rs16,000 from the claims from the seed companies. Though the compensation from two components has to come from the respective companies, the third component has to be paid by the state government. The state, in January, sent a memorandum to the Centre demanding Rs2,425 crore and later revised the amount to Rs3,373 crore in March demanding the assistance under NDRF.
Since the Centre raised the queries related to the memorandum, and the delay led to further uproar among the farmers, the state government issued the GR on March 17 announcing it would compensate the farmers from its own kitty without waiting for the Centre to release the assistance. However, the financial condition of the state, which went haywire the previous financial year, did not allow the government to release the funds.
“Neither have we recovered the claims from the insurance or the seed companies, nor has the assistance under NDRF been released. The farmers are upset, as they need money at the beginning of the new season,” said an official from the agriculture department.
Bijay Kumar, additional chief secretary, agriculture department, said, “We had a meeting of the state-level committee headed by the chief secretary last week and the amount will be released in days now.”
Meanwhile, a central government team of officials from 12 ministries is expected to visit Maharashtra in the first week of May to assess the loss of the cotton crop. “We have received a communication from the Centre, in response to our memorandum, that a team of officials from 12 ministries will soon visit the affected areas. The assistance is released immediately under NDRF after the assessment,” said an official from the relief and rehabilitation department.