Nagpur: In February this year, the Maharashtra government, and specifically C.M. Devendra Fadnavis had announced aid of Rs. 1,012 crores to Vidarbha farmers who had suffered huge crop damage due to insufficient rains.
Cotton, Soyabean and Paddy, the three major crops of the area, had not yielded expected results when rains suddenly stopped. We are all aware that there is very little irrigation facility for farmers when rains fail – Vidarbha is still largely monsoon-dependent agriculturally.
Government had aknowledged the crisis and granted aid. Or made the announcement granting it.
Now 10 months have passed – there have been two sessions of Maharashtra Assembly in Mumbai, the budget session and Monsoon session. No provision was made for implementation of the aid in both these sessions.
Farmers were hopeful that the Winter session would at least yield some result as it is held in Vidarbha. But they have been disappointed again. On the first day of the Vidhan Sabha itself supplementary allocations of 9500 crores was announced but there was nothing for the hapless farmers.
Demonitization has already taken a toll on farming income this year as it was announced just as cotton and soyabean came into the market for sale. Paddy harvest will also soon be finished and that too will be hit it seems clear.
In such a scenario if aid announced at the beginning of the year had come through there would have been some relief for farmers.
Not just Vidarbha, about 22 districts of the state had deficient rain fall last monsoons. As a result 15 thousand and 747 villages had suffered 50% over crop loss in the Kharif season. Almost 54 lakh hectares of agricultural land is under these crops in the affected areas.
Last December some damage compensation had been announced and handed over to the farmers growing fruits but cotton, soyabean and paddy farmers had been omitted. This led to wide spread condemnation and criticism of this partiality which prompted the government to declare that aid would be given to these farmers also. That announcement was made in February but it has remained an empty promise.
Farmers have not received crop protection insurance either.
This inaction coming on the heels of Rabi market for vegetables being completely sabotaged and destroyed as a result of the sudden demonitization decision on 8th November has already put farmers under great financial hardship.
If the neglect continues the specter of farmer suicides will again loom large. How long are we going to be moot spectators?
… Sunita Mudliar – Associate Editor