New Delhi: Congress today asked the government to announce a special package for farmers affected by drought and floods saying the country would not survive if their condition continued to be precarious.
Initiating a debate on flood and drought situation in the country, Ravneet Singh (Cong) said there should be measures to save farmers from natural calamities like drought and floods like special assistance to small farmers and crop insurance schemes.
Reminding the NDA government of previous UPA regime`s Rs 72,000 crore loan waiver scheme that benefited four crore farmers, Singh said the Centre must draft a new scheme for farmers to help them in crisis.
"When the farmers are safe, the country will be safe," he said. The Congress member said drought like situation prevailed in 11 out of 22 districts in his state of Punjab where farmers need urgent government assistance.
Singh said though the 2014 budget has announced government`s plans to introduce bullet trains, there is no mention about how to help the farmers, their storage facilities and logistical provisions.
M Chandrakasi (AIADMK) asked the government to do the needful to develop modern early warning system for natural disasters like tsunami to allay the apprehensions of the people living in coastal areas.
Chandrakasi said Tamil Nadu is the worst affected state whenever there is cyclone, floods or drought and hence the central government must provide adequate funds to the southern state.
Tapas Mandal (TMC) said India is such a vast country that when one part of it faces the onslaught of floods, another part faces drought and that is why special initiative should be taken for the welfare of farmers.
Mandal said time has come for the country to go for different types of crops rather than traditional farming to compensate the damage done by natural disasters like floods and drought.
"We have to go for crops which consume less water as the country will face severe water crisis in the coming years," he said.
BJD member Nagendra Kumar Pradhan said small and marginal farmers in Odisha were the worst affected from cyclone and floods and demanded financial assistance from the Centre.
Pradhan said 80 per cent rainfall in Odisha takes place in just three months, leading to severe hardships to farmers. He claimed that the Centre had announced a Rs 1,000 crore package when cyclone hit Odisha coast in October 2013 but only Rs 463 crore reached the state so far and demanded release of the remaining amount.
Sanjay Jadhav (Shiv Sena) said though 70 per cent of the population in the country are farmers, little or no attention is paid towards welfare of farmers.
He demanded special package for the drought-hit farmers of Maharashtra and said big farmers always got government assistance but small farmers were deprived of it.
"We must take special initiative for their welfare," he said. T Narasimham (TDP) asked the government to instal early warning system along the coastline for cyclone and tsunami to save people from natural disasters.