Elections

Drought-hit Rajasthan village to boycott polls

AM Jigeesh Rambagh | Updated on May 01, 2019 Published on May 01, 2019

The much-hyped Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is becoming a problem for the BJP in drought-hit areas of Rajasthan.

Complaints of higher premium and denial of insurance have turned farmers against the party.

For example, in Rambagh, a remote village in Bikaner district, about 1,200 voters have decided to boycott the elections as HDFC Ergo, the insurance company, did not provide them compensation, based on an official report that the loss due to drought was less than 25 per cent.

The farmers allege that though the loss was near 100 per cent, and the officials colluded with the insurers to deny them insurance.

For the last six months, the villagers have been fighting for their dues with the District Collector’s office. “We have approached the Prime Minister’s Office, the Chief Minister’s Office, and other authorities with all the papers to prove that we faced huge losses last year. Our farming is dependent on rains. Despite paying huge premium, we were denied compensation,” said Ranjeet Singh Rathore, a young farmer.

Indraj Poonia, another young farmer, said even cattle were affected by the severe drought. “We lost hundreds of cows, camels and buffaloes. Nobody bothered to care for us. So, we decided to boycott the election. We have communicated this to the Election Commission,” he said.

Discrepancies found

An inquiry by the District Collector’s office found that there were differences in the data on drought collated by the Agriculture Department and the Revenue Department. The report also said the estimates of the local officer were wrong. Even then, no compensation was provided, said the farmers.

The village has about 12,000 bighas of cultivable land. Out of this, just 500 bighas are irrigated. “We will go to the court if the government does not take a decision,” Rathore said.

“We are depending on the sale of milk and cowdung now. A litre of milk will fetch us ₹20. But the cattle feed for one cow costs more than what we earn by selling milk. We are in deep crisis,” Rathore added. “The candidates of both the Congress and the BJP came here. Their response was not positive. Youngsters here are agitated,” Poonia said.

Black millet and sorghum are the main crops here. “There is no water. So we don’t usually cultivate wheat, peanuts and pulses. The demand for extending canals to this side has been on for long. We don’t even get good drinking water now,” added Prakash Meghwal, a farmer.

 

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Published on May 01, 2019
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