Nagpur: Cotton crop failure in lakhs of hectares of land in 15 districts of Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh was brought to the attention of government through a Call Attention Motion in Legislative Assembly. The Ruling as well as Opposition members said that the damage to cotton crops could be due to spurious seeds or attack by pest (pink bollworm). But still no action has been taken against the guilty officials. The members demanded compensation of Rs 50,000 per hectare to the affected farmers as well as action against seed companies.
In his reply, the Agriculture Minister Pandurang Phundkar informed the House that over 5 lakh farmers have registered complaints for loss of cotton produce. Revenue Department is carrying out a survey along with panchnama. While the government has completed the primary survey of the fields and concluded that the crops on 23% are affected, the agriculture department says it will recover losses from the seed companies that had promised the crop won’t be affected by pests. The government will extend relief to farmers through three mediums. He said that sowing of cotton was done in total 42.6 lakh hectares. In 98 percent area, BT cotton seeds were sown. The announcement for relief to farmers will be done before the conclusion of Winter Session. Assistance from Central Government has been sought. As soon as the assistance is provided, the farmers will be given the relief.
Similarly, the insurance companies will pay 100 percent claims to farmers for the crop failure. The government will not wait for insurance companies and will provide relief to farmers on its own. Those farmers who have not applied for relief before the start of the Winter Session, their applications will be accepted. Suggestions have been sought from Agriculture Universities for supply of new cotton seeds. The farmers have six months for the next cotton crop harvesting. The appropriate seeds will be made available by the government.
Not satisfied with the reply of the Agriculture Minister, the members of Congress and NCP staged a walk out from the House.