HYDERABAD: As per preliminary estimates of the Agriculture Department, crops across two lakh acres have been damaged due to heavy rains and inundation across the State. However, the fate of affected farmers hangs in balance as officials are following a wait-and-watch approach to ascertain the actual crop damage before deciding on any input subsidy for them.
According to S Balu Joint Director of Agriculture, though heavy rains last Vaanakalam had initially given an impression that lakhs of acres were destroyed, most of them recovered once the water receded. He pointed out that the total yield was found to be good.
The most affected in last week’s rains are farmers in Jayashankar-Bhupalapally, Peddapally, Nizamabad and Karimnagar districts lying on the Godavari river belt, where backwaters of irrigation projects have flooded the standing crops in thousands of acres.
As the flooding doesn’t qualify as a natural disaster and due to farmers growing crops in lands located close to the river which have not been acquired by the Irrigation Department, they don’t have the option to claim compensation.
Maintaining that losses in agriculture have been a natural phenomenon for ages, officials feel that the Rythu Bandhu input financial assistance of `5,000 per acre given to farmers was intended to cover losses like these. The High Court has directed the State government to compensate farmers affected by crop damage due to rains in 2020, finding fault with the government for not implementing a crop insurance scheme in the State. Three months have been given for enumerating and assessing crop damage and one more month to disburse compensation to the affected.
Speaking to Express, Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy has said that though he wished that farmers got their crops insured, prevailing insurance schemes, including Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, have not benefited them in the past. As the Centre has made it optional, he felt that the government shouldn’t force farmers to get their crops insured under it. “The Centre should bring a legislation for crop insurance which should benefit the farmers and not the other way round, with a robust regulatory mechanism. Only then will the farmers go for it,” he opined.
Farmers want Central team to assess damage
Farmers’ unions have been demanding that the State government at least utilise the disaster relief funds from the 14th and Fifteenth Finance Commission and invite a Central team to inspect crops damaged by heavy rains this year. The maximum input subsidy per acre of the damaged crop is Rs 5,000 as per the regulations, depending on the type of crop.
“The Agriculture Department has enough manpower to accurately assess the crop damage. Even though the subsidy may be less, it will instill confidence among farmers that the government is trying to help them, which could prevent farmers from committing suicide,” suggested T Sagar, general secretary, Telangana Rythu Sangham.
Protest in Siripuram
Meanwhile, farmers whose fields were flooded and crops damaged by the backwaters of Annaram barrage under Kaleshwaram project, staged a protest on Godavarikhani-Manthani road at Siripuram on Thursday. They claimed that the government failed to assess the damage caused to their crops in the last two years.
Not natural disaster
As the flooding doesn’t qualify as a natural disaster and as farmers grow crops in lands located close to the river, they don’t have the option to claim compensation