Elections over, Jharkhand farmers may finally get drought relief
June holds out some hope for drought-hit farmers in Jharkhand who are still waiting for compensation for their crop loss last year due to the deficient monsoon rain and poor sowing during kharif season. Now, with the elections over, the state disaster management department has assured them of relief distribution by this month.
“The compensation amount for fish loss due to the drought has been released by the department, while the fund for crop loss will be released very soon,” said Manish Tiwary, special secretary at the disaster management department, speaking to HT on Monday.
He said that the Centre had released Rs 256 crore for 91 severely affected blocks, excluding the moderately affected blocks. “But, the state government has decided to give compensation even to the moderately affected blocks. For this, the state government has allocated Rs 100 crore, which awaits the finance department’s clearance,” Tiwary said. “We expect to pay the compensation by this month,” he said.
However, because of the long delay — some six months have passed since the drought assessment visit by a central team — the farmers are despondent. They will believe in the compensation only when they see it, they say. “We faced crop loss last monsoon, while another monsoon season is set to arrive. So, we don’t have any hope of getting compensation for the loss. I am in acute financial trouble,” said Pradip Viswakarma, a farmer from Nawa Bazar block in Palamu district.
The Centre had approved Rs 272.42 crore as drought relief, including Rs 256 crore for the severely affected districts of Jharkhand, by the end of February. However, the money distribution was held up because the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections came into effect on March 10, said officials. The Jharkhand government had, in November last year, declared 129 blocks out of 264 blocks in the state as drought hit. As many as 93 blocks were declared severely affected by drought due to poor sowing during monsoon last year.
Farmers said that they were facing a double whammy due to the drought in two consecutive crop seasons: kharif and rabi (this year). Meanwhile, many farmers, who sold paddy to the state government are yet to get the price of their produce. According to the food and public distribution department, the government purchased 2.28 lakh metric tonnes of paddy from 34,268 farmers, while payment to 7,185 farmers is pending. State food minister Saryu Rai asked the districts to clear the due amount to farmers by June 10.
Farmers, however, are hopeful that the Centre’s Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana and the state’s Mukhya Mantri Krishi Ashirwad Yojana would give them substantial relief. Under the Centre’s scheme, a farmer having two hectares of land gets Rs 6,000 annually in three instalments. The first instalment, Rs 2000, has been paid to the farmers. The state’s scheme is likely to be launched this month, under which a farmer will be paid Rs 5,000 per acre, up to five acres.