Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Friday announced a wide-ranging relief package for drought-affected farmers in districts that are not part of the Cauvery delta.
The measures come as a second phase of relief for the failed monsoons, with the first phase aimed at the delta region. Jayalalithaa also told the Assembly she would send a Drought Memorandum to the Centre, asking for close to Rs 20,000 crore as drought assistance package.
The CM would request the Centre for aid on various components of drought management, such as agricultural production losses (Rs 9,286.2 crore), State-government aid package (Rs 1,376.1 crore), job creation for agricultural labourers (Rs 2,424.47 crore), TANGEDCO’s losses (Rs 2,661.32 crore), drinking water supply (Rs 1,195.79 crore), rescheduling of co-operative loans (Rs 182.1 crore), funds for the PWD’s water resources organisation (Rs 1,390.31 crore) and assistance for Integrated Child Development Scheme and nutritious noon meal scheme (`333.60 crore) among others. The total aid package the State government has requested amounts to a whopping Rs 19,665.13 crore.
Jayalalithaa announced a number of packages aimed at compensating drought-affected farmers who have lost over 50 per cent of their crop.
The relief amounts she announced included a component that was over and above the compensation that can be paid from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
Jayalalithaa’s relief package covered crop losses in multiple components, which included packages based on availability of irrigation and the nature of crop planted. A total of 1,01,802 farmers who lost more than 50 per cent of their crop on 1,25,386 acres in irrigated areas would receive Rs 4,000 per acre, which is higher than the Rs 2,429 per acre for small farmers eligible from the National Disaster Response Fund. This component would amount to an expense of `50.15 crore to the state exchequer.
Jayalalithaa also overshot the Rs 1,215 per acre NDRF component for small farmers in non-irrigated areas, by announcing relief of Rs 3,000 per acre for all farmers in this category. This would benefit 10,05,549 farmers and 14,14,126 acres, amounting to `424.24 crore.
All farmers who lost more than half their coconut and other long-term crop plantations would get Rs 4,000 per acre, which is higher than the Rs 3,239 per acre for small and medium farmers laid out in the NDRF. This will benefit 50,908 farmers farming 1,08,383 acres, drawing up a bill of Rs 43.35 crore for the state government.
The state exchequer will also shell out Rs 4.58 crore to cover the losses of 10,602 farmers who lost more than 50 percent of their mulberry crop on 15,262 acres, at the rate of Rs 3000 per acre. Here too, Jayalalithaa’s announcement exceeded the combined payout of the NDRF and SDRF of `1,296 per acre.
In all, these packages for non-delta farmers who lost more than half their crop would benefit 17,94,342 farmers and would cost the State government Rs 835.21 crore.
Jayalalithaa also announced a Rs 24.65 crore package to address cattle fodder shortage that has arisen out of the drought, which covers both green and dry fodder.
Rural areas of non-delta districts also got Rs 40 crore in the first phase of the scheme to provide drinking water, while Rs 25 crore was set apart to bolster Chennai’s water supply and Rs 20 crore set aside for water supply schemes to be taken up by the TWAD Board.
Jayalalithaa also announced that her government would disburse Rs 750 crore through the rural employment guarantee scheme to ease the pressure on agricultural labourers, with work to be taken up on 50,000 ponds. All these announcements brought the total drought relief package of the State government to Rs 1,754.86 crore, Jayalalithaa said.