Cabinet ministers visit hailstorm-hit states

Cabinet ministers visit hailstorm-hit states

 At a time when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is being accused of framing a land bill that is anti-farmer, senior Cabinet ministers toured hailstorm hit states on Sunday to assess the damage and assure them of prompt central assistance.

Union Home minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu were among senior Cabinet colleagues directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi  to reach out to the farmers in 13 states, giving them the message that the centre cares for them.    

While Rajnath flew down to Madhya Pradesh and toured the unseasonal rains and hailstorm impacted areas along with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Arun Jaitley was in Bundi, one of the worst affected districts of Rajasthan on Sunday.

“Modi told me to assure farmers here that the government will give them full support,” said Rajnath Singh in MP.  He also said that the state BJP government has been asked to send a report which would become the basis for providing central aid. The government is not averse to raising the “compensation limit to help the farmers whose crops have been affected by rain and hailstorm,” assured Jaitley during his interaction with villagers in Bundi.

The BJP leaders believe that the government’s serious move to tackling this natural catastrophe is also aimed at blunting opposition propaganda against the land acquisition ordinance. It would be re-issued before next Sunday as it got stuck in Parliament so that compensation given to them does not become invalid.

 Last week, the Centre had asked states to give immediate assistance to farmers from State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) which has corpus of Rs 5,270 crore for utilisation in this fiscal. Of the total cultivable 600 hectares,  preliminary reports suggest that damage to rabi crops due to hailstorm is estimated at 181 lakh hectares across 13 states.

The leaders from various states had earlier met Modi seeking relief package for damages to crop and infrastructure.

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