Package for rain-hit farmers before session ends: Khadse

| Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 17:42
First Published |
Eknath Khadse

Mumbai: Assuring that a comprehensive financial package for farmers affected by unseasonal rains would be announced before the Budget Session ends, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday said it was planning a group insurance scheme to help the kin of farmers who committed suicide.

Under the group insurance scheme, the kin of the farmers who committed suicide would get Rs two lakh.

However, not satisfied with the government's reply to the marathon debate which took place yesterday, the Opposition Congress and NCP staged a walkout as their demand for loan waiver and Rs 25,000 per hectare assistance was not accepted.

Replying to the debate on the issue in the Assembly, state Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, who also heads the agriculture department, said, "I have sought permission of the House on this issue and if needed, the MLA fund and salary for a period of one-year would be freezed."

The minister also said that uncertain climatic changes have caused havoc with the state repeatedly experiencing unseasonal rains and hailstorms in addition to drought.

"Panchnamas (evaluation) of some districts are awaited. Even yesterday, there was unseasonal rain in some districts. So at the end of the session, we will announce a financial package for the farmers," he said.

Admitting that the Centre has not acted on its demand for Central assistance of Rs 6,013 crore, Khadse said the reason was that after the proposal was sent for it, the state repeatedly faced unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

"The Centre has asked us for a single proposal, which is not possible as the hardships of farmers do not seem to end because of unpredictable climate. But, (Union Home Minister) Rajnath Singh and (Agriculture Minister) Radha Mohan Singh have assured us that the Centre would give more funds to the state than given by the previous governments," he said.

Khadse also said that even though the Centre had not given relief, the state had announced a package of Rs 4,000 crore during the winter session of the Legislature in Nagpur and 78 percent farmers had received the money directly into their bank accounts.

The other cases were pending for finalising the names of the heirs of the deceased farmers and non-availability of bank accounts, he said, adding, that a provision of Rs 2,000 crore has been made in the supplementary demands.

He also said that his government had to release funds which were meant for 2013 drought and unseasonal rains.

"Congress MLA Gopal Agrawal wrote to me that Rs 4 crore meant for his district for 2013 was not released and sought my assistance and I did so," the minister said.

He also said that during the Congress-NCP rule, the price of cotton in international market was more than Rs 6,000 per quintal and there was nothing wrong in the Minimum Support Price being Rs 6,000 per quintal.

"Now we are giving (MSP) Rs 4,050, but the international market price is Rs 3,200. Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has procured one crore quintal of cotton so far," he said.

Khadse also expressed hope that schemes like Jalyukt Shivar Yojana and providing solar agriculture pumps to farmers would go a long way in mitigating the hardships of the farming community in times to come and the state would be drought free.

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