Punjab seeks Rs.5,112 crore package for drought

August 10th, 2012 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Aug 10 (IANS) The Punjab government Friday sought a relief package of Rs.5,112.09 crore from the central government to tackle the drought-like conditions caused by a deficit monsoon this year.

The package was demanded by a Punjab team led by Food and Supplies Minister Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon at a meeting with union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh here.

“The Punjab government prepared a well-documented case for a relief package of Rs.5,112.09 crore to bail the Punjab farmers out of the throes of crisis following drought-like conditions here. The package is meant to compensate the farmers and the state for their extraordinary efforts and sacrifices during the ongoing crisis,” a state government spokesman said after the meeting.

He said the central government agreed in principle that there was a dire need to come to the aid of farmers and the government in Punjab in the wake of unprecedented failure of monsoon in the region.

Speaking to media after the meeting, Pawar said there was strong merit in the demand for a central package.

Punjab alone contributes nearly 70 percent of food grain (wheat and rice) to the national kitty despite having just 1.54 percent of the country’s geographical area.

The package demanded by Punjab includes Rs.2,531 crore for purchase and arrangement of additional power for the agriculture sector, Rs.850.80 crore to compensate for additional cost incurred by the farmers for buying diesel to run tubewells on generators, and Rs.893.49 crore for conversion and rescheduling of cooperative credit.

It also includes Rs.300 crore on account of additional ground water irrigation, Rs.300 crore for restoration of capacity and installation of alternative tube-wells, Rs. 211.60 crore for arrangement of feed and fodder for livestock sector, and Rs.26 crore for drinking water supply, the spokesman said.

Pawar said the mandate of the central team was limited to providing immediate relief to mitigate the situation.

He said the central government was aware of the concerted efforts of the state government in providing adequate power to farmers to enable them to save their paddy crop by diverting electricity from the domestic and industrial to farm sector.

He assured the state government that the visiting central team would take up this issue at the appropriate level for its early resolution.

The Punjab government had earlier criticised the central government for not including Punjab in an earlier package of nearly Rs.2,000 crore announced for other states hit by the drought-like conditions.

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