BERHAMPUR: An inordinate delay in release of compensation for crop loss last year has led to building up of resentment among the farmers in Ganjam district even as a fresh system threatens to bring in heavy showers.As per available data, over 2.23 lakh hectare (ha) land was brought under paddy and another 1.65 lakh ha under non-paddy cultivation in the district in 2021. While farmers first faced the problem of lack of irrigation water, their woes mounted as subsequent unseasonal rains and cyclone Jawad caused extensive damage to the crops.
The State government assured compensation and the district had administration conducted a survey in January this year. According to the survey, land in all 22 blocks sustained damage. Officially, the crop loss figure was pegged at 69,453 hectres of paddy land that included 23,187 ha rainfed, 46,223 ha irrigated and another 42 ha perennial land. Sources, however, say the loss could well be over 60 per cent and not 33 per cent as surveyed.
While the compensation amount was released to the blocks soon after, only a few farmers received their due reportedly due to delay in verification and halting of disbursement due to model code of conduct for panchayat polls.The Rushikulya Rayat Mahasabha which conducted a survey about the payment for crop loss compensation stated that an allocation of Rs 80 crore had reached the district. But only 1.8 lakh out of 3.5 lakh farmers have been compensated till date.
“Even after more than a month of the elections, remaining beneficiaries have not received compensation for crop loss,” Simanchal Nahak, secretary of the Mahasabha said. The body also claimed that many farmers have also not even received insurance benefits despite paying premium.
Bhagabat Mohapatra, a farmer of Baranga village under Chhatrapur tehsil, shared that he cultivated paddy in 1.2 ha land which was damaged due to unseasonal rains in 2021. “Every year, bona fide farmers in the district pay premium for insurance and they are supposed to get Rs 1,350 per acre but most of them have not received the benefits since a decade,” he claimed.
Worst hit are share-croppers who make up for around 2.5 lakh out of total 5.2 lakh farmers in the district. While land-owning farmers are entitled for loans from banks and cooperative societies and compensation for crop loss, the sharecroppers are deprived of any such facilities due to lack of official recognition.
In the event of crop loss, they now stare at huge debts since they take up cultivation by availing personal loans.Collector Vijay Kulange, however, dismissed the allegations and said maximum disbursement of compensation was done and officials concerned have been directed to complete the task soon.