Thursday, January 12, 2012

Constitute Agricultural Calamity Relief Fund: Lok Satta Party

The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the State Government constitute an Agricultural Calamity Relief Fund to go to the immediate relief and rescue of farmers without waiting for the time-consuming Government of India assistance.

Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma in a media statement pointed out that farmers have been losing crops in some part of the State or the other every year because of floods and cyclones or drought. The long coastline, chronic power shortage and depleting groundwater have been accentuating farmers' misery. Against such a bleak backdrop, its is not prudent to wait for Central assistance to extend relief to farmers, Mr. Varma said.

Mr. Varma pointed out that the State Government sent a report on the impact of the drought on kharif crops in 876 mandals accounting for two-thirds of the State only last week, almost two months and a half of the crops withering away. The State Government has sought Central assistance of Rs.3775 crore towards drought relief. But none knows to what extent the Union Government will concede the State's request.

Meanwhile, Mr. Varma recalled, un-seasonal rains have ravaged standing or just harvested crops in Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore, Kurnool, Anantapur and Khammam districts some of them for the second time in a month.

Mr. Varma said that the State Government should constitute an Agricultural Calamity Relief Fund so that it can go to farmers' assistance without waiting for Union Government funds. The State Government could guarantee some relief to farmers if it pays the premium and facilitates crop insurance in areas vulnerable to floods and drought.

Quoting unofficial reports, Mr. Varma said that heavy rains during January 10 and 11 in districts like Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore damaged crops like paddy, maize, black gram, bengal gram, groundnut, chilly, cotton and tobacco in about eight lakh acres. Their losses have become unbearable because of the steep increase in input and labor costs. The Government should, therefore, not lose time in going to their rescue, said Mr. Varma.

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