Nagpur: A farmer of Wardha district in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, who suffered losses of around Rs.15,000 during the last monsoon floods, was aghast to receive a compensation amount of Rs.80.
He is not the only one, according to NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishore Tiwari, active among the farming communities in eastern Maharashtra.
"Thousands of cheques bearing compensation amounts like Rs.80, Rs.100, Rs.150 are lying in various tehsildar offices, but the farmers are refusing to collect them," Tiwari said here Wednesday.
The Wardha farmer, Sotba G.Bavne had submitted claims worth around Rs.15,000 for the losses in the floods and spent an additional Rs.95 in various official fees.
"The most shocking part is that some officials came to survey his premises, they had tea and snacks in his home and even took Rs.100 promising to expedite his claims...VJAS demands that these officials be suspended and booked," Tiwari told reporters.
The meagre compensation amounts are being doled out though Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had announced a total aid package of Rs.2,000 crore for the severely flood-hit regions of eastern Maharashtra during the monsoon fury this year.
Later, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar made an intensive tour of the region and indicated a massive special central aid, which has not yet been announced, Tiwari added.
"In the meantime, the farmers are being told to collect these cheques with pittance amount. Only for opening a savings bank account to deposit them, they are required to shell out a minimum Rs.500. How can the poor farmer afford?" he said.
Tiwari said the state and central governments must immediately look into this issue before more debt-hit and flood-affected farmers commit suicide. Only in October, over a dozen farmers ended their lives.
Several districts of the Vidarbha region, especially Wardha, Amravati, Yavatmal, were severely affected by deluge during this year`s monsoon in July-August.