Centre approves Rs 2,801 cr to UP hailstorm-hit farmers

The Centre on Friday approved Rs 2,801 crore for relief of hailstorm-affected farmers in Uttar Pradesh.

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday approved Rs 2,801 crore for relief of hailstorm-affected farmers in Uttar Pradesh.

The decision has been taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, besides others.

BJP and its ally Apna Dal won 73 Lok Sabha seats, out of 80, in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, where 73 districts were affected by the hailstorm.

The amount was sanctioned after examining the report of the central team which visited the hailstorm-hit areas in the state. Entire funds will be given to the state government which will distribute compensation amount to farmers as per the damaged crops, sources said.

The NDA government has changed the norms for giving compensation to farmers whose crops were damaged. Now, those farmers whose crops are damaged up to 33 per cent will be entitled for compensation. Earlier it was limited upto 50 per cent.

The Centre has made changes in the norms to purchase shrivelled grains and tweaked the standards on moisture content to help the farmers.

The move is aimed at ensuring that wheat farmers get the full minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,450 per quintal.

According to the new norms, farmers in rainfed areas will be eligible to claim assistance - in the form of input subsidy - of Rs 6,800 per hectare, compared to the earlier Rs 4,500.

Compensation for crops in areas with assured irrigation has been increased from Rs 9,000 to Rs 13,500 per hectare, and that for perennial (horticultural) crops from Rs 12,000 to 18,000 per hectare. The relief is subject to a cap of two hectares per farmer.

According to official data, crop damage due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms has been reported in 106 lakh hectares in 13 states, including Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, in the current rabi season.

The Centre had already asked state governments to render immediate assistance to farmers from SDRF (State Disaster Relief Fund) which has funds to the tune of Rs 5,270 crore for utilisation during the fiscal. The states had also been asked to submit a memorandum in case the expenditure was more than the available funds.

The total cultivable area in rabi season is 600 lakh hectares.

As per latest data, a total quantity of 158.61 lakh tonnes of wheat has been procured in 2015-16 rabi marketing year (April-March) as against the procurement level of 169.29 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.

The Centre has fixed the wheat procurement target at 30.05 million tonnes in 2015-16 marketing year (April-March) as against 28 million tonnes bought by the FCI last year.

Wheat production is likely to fall by 4-5 per cent from the initial estimates of 95.76 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) due to unseasonal rains.