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UNSEASONAL RAINS WREAK HAVOC ON FARMERS

From L.S. Herdenia

 

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh government, which is already facing several political problems, has plunged into another crisis. This crisis has been caused due to large-scale damage to the standing rabi crops because of untimely heavy rains, and at some places even accompanied by hailstorms. Both rains and hailstorm led to widespread destruction of standing crops, mainly wheat and gram. For last to two to three years, Madhya Pradesh has been producing wheat breaking its own past record. The wheat production has been increasing at such a fast rate that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had started forecasting that Madhya Pradesh may soon get ahead of Punjab in that area. Moreover, the state has been the recipient of rewards from the Government of India for three consecutive years, getting the last one only days before the rains destroyed a substantial chunk of the standing crops. Prime Minister Narendra Modi honoured Madhya Pradesh for its outstanding performance in agricultural production. While giving away the award, Modi even complimented the MP CM for removing “bimaru” stigma levelled against the state. 

 

According to the preliminary surveys conducted by the government, it has come to fore that crops in around 2,000 villages of 22 districts across the state have been damaged by the recent spell of unseasonal rain and hailstorms. The state government is readying to distribute compensation to the farmers for the damage caused to their crops. A provision of Rs. 500 crore would be made for the purpose in the Supplementary Budget, to be presented in the day-long Assembly session on March 24.

 

Revenue Minister Rampal Singh said survey has already begun in the state and that distribution of compensation would start by the end of this month. The damage to crops was also discussed at the cabinet meeting on 17th March. It was decided that joint teams of Agriculture, Revenue and Rural Development Departments would be formed for making the survey.

 

The results of the survey would be displayed in Panchayat offices to invite claims and objections within 24 hours. This has been done to ensure that the assessment is accurate.

 

Chief Minister Chauhan said at the cabinet meeting that farmers would be given assistance by curtailing the budgetary allocation for other departments. Chauhan said the central government would also be requested to increase the quantum of relief to the farmers. He said the state government has hiked the amount of relief by amending RBC 6/4 on two occasions.

 

Chief Minister said he would write to Central government to relax Fair Average Quality norms and also lift poor quality wheat. CM Chauhan has already undertaken intensive tours of rains and hailstorm-affected areas of the state. He will meet farmers and apprise himself of losses by visiting fields. On the first day, the Chief Minister visited five districts. The CM has reiterated that farmers need not worry. State government stands by them in this hour of crisis. Survey of crops will be done with humanitarian approach. Farmers will be provided relief.

 

Chambal and Gwalior region are the worst hit areas in the state. More than six people died in the region when they were struck by the lightning during rainfall. Damage to crops at some places was estimated to be 80 percent. The standing crops of wheat, gram, mustard and green peas have been badly affected in the region. In the past couple of days, Bhind experienced 120.5 mm rainfall as it rained continuously for two days.

 

During the period, lightening in different villages of Bhind and Gwalior claimed six lives. In Udotgarh village in Bhind, 18-year-old Upendra Singh, who was a Class 12 student, was killed when lightning struck him while he was taking a buffalo tied in the open to a shed when it started raining. Mithilesh Kushwah of Bajariya village in Bhind district also died when lightning struck her during the rainfall while she was fetching water. Sukhu Baghel, 50, a resident of Chhoti Rahwali village, also died in a similar circumstances while he was returning home with his wife. In Kamthari village of Morena, Dheer Singh was killed when lightning struck him when he was working in his fields. Raju Adivasi of village Khajuri and Rinki Gurjar of Madhopura village in Morena district also died after being struck by lightning.

 

Bhind and Morena administration said apart from the six deaths, scores of cattle and livestock were also killed in the lightening, heavy rainfall and hailstorm. Principal secretary, revenue, Arun Tiwari, said the districts of Rajgarh, Neemuch, Betul and Vidisha were the worst-affected due to hailstorms.

 

He said a maximum of 230 villages had been affected in Rajgarh followed by 100 in Neemuch, 45 in Betul and 40 in Vidisha. Meanwhile, director of meteorological department, Bhopal, Anupam Kashyapi, said: “The latest round of rainfall was the result of the confluence of eastern disturbance with the western disturbance.” He, however, said 85% of clouds over the state would disappear soon. He predicted rainfall and hailstorm at some places in eastern parts of MP, including Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, Dindori, Shahdol, Umaria, Katni, Rewa and Sidhi districts.

 

Meanwhile reports of suicide by farmers whose crops have been damaged are reaching Bhopal. Newspapers are carrying reports of some such suicides. The Congress has demanded that the state government provide a special package of Rs.10,000 crore to the farmers of the state, who have been badly hit due to the recent hailstorm and unseasonal rains. The party also demanded that farmers’ pending power bills and loans be waived. State Congress president Arun Yadav said the BJP government was apathetic towards the crisis in the farming sector.

 

“The Prime Minister has gone on foreign tours and the home minister hasn’t issued a statement. The chief minister is also silent though during a UPA regime he would always raise the demand for relief from the Centre,” said Yadav, while addressing a press conference on Monday. Yadav said farmers across the state had suffered crop damage to the tune of 10,000 crores and the BJP government in the state should provide a relief package for them.

 

“All the loans of the farmers from banks and societies for the last five years should be waived. Similarly, the government should waive the outstanding electricity bills of the farmers in this moment of crisis”, he said. The PCC chief also said the farmers were consistently been cheated by the state government in the name of crop insurance scheme, as the money wasn’t paid to them, despite losses to farmers earlier too. The Congress said it would take to the streets if the government failed to provide relief to the farmers. (IPA Service)

 

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