Agri Business

Declare drought-hit districts immediately, say farmer associations

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 23, 2019 Published on June 23, 2019

India is experiencing a serious nation-wide drought this year (File photo)   -  BUSINESS LINE

About 85 per cent of the India has experienced “deficiency” or “large deficiency” in rainfall this monsoon season

An umbrella body of farmer groups on Saturday urged the government to declare districts which are under severe water stress as ‘drought-hit’ immediately and not wait till the end of the monsoon season as is the usual practice.

“There must not be any delay in the declaration of drought. Instead of waiting for the end of the monsoon, drought must be declared in all those districts where sowing has been severely affected due to 50 per cent or greater deficit in the month of June,” said All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a consortium of over 210 farmer associations in the country.

Also read: 84% of meteorological subdivisions record deficit rainfall

The working committee of AIKSCC met here on Thursday also asked the government to take a series of proactive steps as farmers face the prospects of a serious nation-wide drought this year, which could be a second consecutive drought in large parts of the country.

Briefing the media on Saturday, the AIKSCC leaders said a special national package should be announced for those districts that experienced drought last year and experienced delayed monsoon so far this year without any delay.

Also read: How India can cope with climate change effects

They said Maharashtra has the largest region that faced this double whammy. They urged the government to compensate drought-affected farmers of orange and other horticultural crops in the state at a rate of ₹1 lakh per acre and at a rate of ₹50,000 per acre where crops are on the verge of wilting.

Driest June ever

Among those who addressed the media were AIKSCC Convenor VM Singh, All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav and former Lok Sabha MP and Swabhimani Paksha founder Raju Shetti.

According to India Meteorological Department, the progress of the southwest monsoon this year so far has been slow and there was a 42 per cent deficit rainfall compared to the Long Period Average throughout the country as on Friday.

Also read: Monsoon enters Chhattisgarh, Bengal; Jharkhand, UP next

In all, 85 per cent of the Indian landmass has experienced “deficiency” or “large deficiency” in rainfall so far, and this is expected to be the driest June ever recorded in the history, despite the forecast of some recovery over the next one week, the farmer leaders said.

‘Ensure compensation’

They urged the government to revise the central norms for crop loss compensation to at least ₹10,000 per acre for unirrigated land and proportionately higher amounts for irrigated and horticultural crops.

Considering that there are widespread reports about non-payment, delayed payment and partial payment of crop insured, especially by private insurance companies, the process for payment under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana should be revised and the district administration should be liable for ensuring full and timely payment to the farmers, they demanded.

AIKSCC also urged the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to convene a special meeting of the State Level Bankers Committees to reiterate its standing guidelines about non-recovery of outstanding loans, rescheduling of loans and grant of fresh loans in drought affected regions. Despite the RBI guidelines to the contrary, there were reported of farmers being denied credit, it said.

Expanding MNREGS

The AIKSCC leaders also asked the government to invoke the provision for extending the number of entitlement under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) from 100 days to 150 days in the drought affected areas and should consider every adult, rather than every household as the unit.

“It should open at least one public work in every gram panchayat where workers can get work without prior registration,” they said, adding that the government should allocate additional finances for carrying out MNREGS work in drought-hit areas.

The AIKSCC working committee also wrote to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Congress President Rahul Gandhi to punish those policemen who were involved in the killing of farmers in Mandsaur two years as they promised earlier. Instead of taking action against the cops, they were being promoted, the AIKSCC leaders alleged.

Published on June 23, 2019
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