Rajasthan announces Rs.1.26 bn relief to frost-bitten farmers

February 16th, 2008 - 7:03 pm ICT by admin  

Jaipur, Feb 16 (IANS) The Rajasthan government has announced a relief package worth Rs.1.26 billion ($31.8 million) for the farmers whose crops have been hit by frost and extreme cold weather conditions this winter. Under the package, the farmers would get a compensation of Rs.3,000 per hectare of non-irrigated land and Rs.4,000 per hectare of irrigated land. Besides, small and marginal farmers have been exempted from paying the electricity bills of the past four months.

Collection of revenue tax and loans has been temporarily put on hold in the areas that suffered 50 percent crop damage.

According to official sources, about 896,000 hectares of land and 137,287 farmers of 22 districts would be the part of this compensation package.

Disbursement of grants would start in the first week of March. Relief works would also be carried out in areas that suffered over 50 percent crop damage.

“This relief package was decided by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje after a high-level meeting of the concerned government officials Friday evening,” Rajasthan’s Relief Minister Lakshmi Narayan Dave told IANS here Saturday.

If damage exceeds expectations in the final survey report, the compensation package would be increased.

Despite repeated requests of the state, the union government was not ready to include the damage to crops due to cold weather and frost in the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF), Dave said.

However, “we will continue to request the government to modify the CRF norms”, he added.

Farmers have lost over 50 percent of their standing crop only because of frost.

According to commodity traders here, farmers in Sri Ganganagar and neighbouring Hanumangarh districts have lost over 50 percent of their standing mustard crop.

Rajasthan, with a contribution of around 40 percent, is the largest producer of mustard in the country. This winter the crop was sown in an area of around 2.3 million hectares. Trade estimates indicate that the crop has been hit in over 700,000 hectares.

“We sometimes suffer because of drought. When everything looked fine to us this time, the extreme weather conditions affected our crop badly. I used to sow mustard in my farm, but now only 60-65 percent of the crop remains and if cold wave continues for next few days I might lose more,” Beni Prasad, a farmer in Shidaspura area of Jaipur district, said.

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