'Caretaker' CM agrees to Rs 25K/ha aid for Maha farmers

Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP candidate from Nagpur South-West constituency Devendra Fadnavis. (PTI Photo)

The Shiv Sena on Wednesday demanded that the Maharashtra government announce an immediate assistance of Rs 25,000 per hectare to farmers for crop losses due to unseasonal rains, and said "caretaker" Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has agreed to it.

Amid the tussle over formation of new government in Maharashtra, six Shiv Sena ministers attended a meeting over agrarian crisis in the state, called by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis here.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Sena minister Ramdas Kadam said, "We attended the meeting on directives of (Sena chief) Uddhavji. The Shiv Sena has demanded Rs 25,000 per hectare as immediate financial assistance for farmers. The caretaker chief minister has agreed to it."

He said crops on 70 lakh hectare land were damaged, including cotton on 19 lakh hectare and soyabean on 18 lakh hectare.

Compensation will also be given for repair of fishing boats and loss of paddy crop to farmers in Konkan region, the environment minister said.
He said the Sena ministers also demanded that recovery of loans and electricity bills from farmers be stopped.

"Farmers should be provided help to prepare for the Rabi crop," he added.

Meanwhile, state finance minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said the untimely rains have damaged crops on over 70 lakh hectare of land, and assessment of damage on 60 lakh hectare has been completed.

It has been decided to use the contingency funds to disburse financial assistance to farmers, he said.

"The state cabinet has decided to instruct banks not to force farmers to repay loans as most of them have been affected by the untimely showers," he said.

The state government has been supplying rice and wheat at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg respectively in 14 districts, he said.

"If needed, we can extend the scheme to other districts which are currently affected by the untimely rains," the minister added.

The state government last week approved Rs 10,000 crore as a special provision to provide immediate assistance to farmers affected by unseasonal rains.

As per an initial evaluation, crops like jowar, paddy, cotton, maize, tur and soyabean on 54.22 lakh hectares spread across 325 talukas in the state have been damaged.

The Sena earlier termed the aid announced by the state government as inadequate and demanded that farmers be provided a relief package of about Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore.

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