The Maharashtra government plans to announce a comprehensive financial relief package for farmers affected by a continuous spell of hailstorms and unseasonal rains.
State Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse told Assembly that a special Cabinet meeting will be convened to take stock of the situation and a comprehensive financial package would be announced before the end of the ongoing budget session.
He said that compilation of ‘panchnamas’ of losses has been delayed because of a spell of hailstorms and unseasonal rains and the district administration also faces a staff shortage.
Khadse is also in-charge of the agriculture portfolio.
“The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted more hailstorms and rains for the next three days,” he said, adding that Vidarbha and central Maharashtra had experienced heavy rains as well as hailstorms during the last two days.
He said that officials have been instructed to declare entire village farm lands as “affected” instead of spending time to compile precise figures of losses, in order to expedite the process of announcing welfare schemes for affected farmers.
The issue was raised by Maharashtra Assembly’s Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil who said that standing crop in more than 75,000 hectares of land was destroyed due to the a spate of unseasonal rains.
He demanded that the Maharashtra government must announce a complete waiver of loans and electricity dues.
Chhagan Bhujbal of NCP said that farmers in North Maharashtra staged a road blockade agitation yesterday to demand a loan waiver.
“The situation is serious and could become a law and order problem,” he said.
However, the opposition was not satisfied with Khadse’s response and staged a walkout.
Khadse accused the opposition of politicising the plight of farmers.
“We will give more than what the Congress-NCP government did all these years. The state’s financial position is not good but we will raise money through loans if needed,” Khadse said.