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Hailstorms: Maha seeks Rs 200 crore in aid from Centre

With hailstorms causing extensive damage to crops in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions earlier this week, the Maharashtra government has demanded Rs 200 crore from the Centre for providing aid to farmers.

State Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar said here that hailstorms have affected crops over two lakh hectares.

“Most of the panchnama (inspection) reports of affected crops have been done on February 11 and 12. So far we have ascertained that crops on about two lakh hectares across 1,900 villages have been affected,” the minister said.

“We have written to the Centre and sought Rs 200 crore. I will be meeting the Union Agriculture Minister on February 22 in New Delhi and press the demand,” he said.

Compensation for the crop damage will be provided from the National Disaster Response Fund and also by insurance companies, Fundkar said.

The financial loss caused by the hailstorms would be known by Thursday, he said.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde alleged that crop damage inspection was being delayed.

In some parts, officials hadn’t started the inspection/verification process even 72 hours after the natural calamity hit, the NCP leader alleged.

He found during a visit to a village in Jalna district, worst-affected by hailstorms, that the panchnama process had not even started, Munde alleged.

“Many farmers complained that no government official has visited them. The government should not waste time in doing panchnamas. It should immediately announce compensation for farmers,” he demanded.

Fundkar dismissed Mundes claim. “I have been in touch with district collectors. They were on the spot within three hours of hailstorms,” the minister said.

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