Rs 600 crore Central aid for rain-hit Maharashtra

Centre on Friday announced Rs 600 crore aid for Maharashtra where unseasonal rains wreaked havoc.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2010, 19:24 PM IST

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday announced Rs 600
crore aid for Maharashtra where unseasonal rains wreaked havoc
causing damage to crops spread over 11.46 lakh hectares and
affecting nearly 29 lakh farmers.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Rs 400 crore
as interim relief for farmers in Maharashtra, Agriculture
Minister Sharad Pawar sanctioned Rs 200 crore as additional
aid to the state as assistance to horticultural crops.

An all party delegation led by Chief Minister Prithviraj
Chavan met Singh and Pawar separately and sought a special
relief package for farmers who have lost more than 50 per cent
of their crop to unseasonal rains in October and November.

Chavan said the assistance would be capped at two
hectares per farmer.

Maharashtra government has already announced a Rs 1000
crore relief package earlier this month.

Singh assured the delegation the interests of farmers
were uppermost and all necessary steps would be taken by the
Centre to assist the state government in helping the farmers.

"Requirement of further assistance will be considered in
the light of the assessment made by an inter-ministerial
Central team, after visiting the state," he told the
delegation which comprised MPs from the state.

The delegation included Deputy Chief Minister Ajit
Pawar, BJP MP Gopinath Munde and Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete.

Union Ministers Sharad Pawar, Mukul Wasnik, Gurudas Kamat
and Pratik Patil were also present at the meeting with Singh.

At the meeting with Pawar, Chavan discussed the
possibility of launching a crop insurance scheme with
participation of the Centre, the state government and the
farmer.

Pawar also announced that Centre would step up
procurement of tur dal at an additional Rs 500 per quintal to
arrest the rapid decline in the prices.

"The MSP for tur (arhar) dal is Rs 3000 per quintal. The
prices had slipped to Rs 2,700 per quintal in the wholesale
market triggering concern among farmers," Maharashtra
Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said.

Chavan handed over to the Prime Minister a report of the
state government on assessment of agricultural damages to
farmers across the state due to unseasonal rains.

"We asked the Prime Minister to adopt the report of the
state government and announce a special package for the
state," Geete told reporters.

The state government has assessed the damage due to
unseasonal rains at Rs 5,996 crore. This includes the damage
to crops, orchards and roads.

The delegation told Singh that roads connecting villages
to the National Highways have been extensively damaged and
require Rs 732 crore for temporary repairs. They also met
Surface Transport Minister Kamal Nath.

PTI