A year to deal with farmers’ crisis and extension of relief to them

Entire government machinery stood at doorsteps of farmers

Bhopal, December 31, 2015 (Ataullah Faizan):   The measures taken by the state government to deal with farmers’ crisis, extension of relief to them and thrash out a permanent solution to their difficulties this year were for the first time in the history of Madhya Pradesh. It was first time that special session of Vidhan Sabha was convened to discuss farmers’ crisis. Entire government machinery stood at doorsteps of farmers during the crisis. Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited village after village to meet affected farmers. It was also first instance in the state that Head of the State visited them with entire team of officers at the time of the crisis. When frost destroyed crops in January 2015, the Chief Minister immediately issued orders to provide wheat and rice at Rs. one per kg to affected farmers. Rs. 25 thousand assistance was announced for marriages of daughters of affected farmers and their marriages were delineated from bond of mass marriage.

Loan recovery was suspended from farmers having suffered over 50 percent crop loss. They were given relaxation of one year for payment of electricity bills. The Chief Minister also decided to adjust 50 percent amount of such farmers electricity bills. A meeting of the state cabinet decided to continue scheme of extending loans to farmers at zero percent interest rate during year 2015-16. Joint survey teams were formed to ensure transparency in survey of damaged crops.

For the first time, orders were also issued to include damaged harvested crops in survey. Intimation to provide Rs. 26 thousand per hectare relief on loss of crops of food grains as well vegetables, spices and Isabgol was displayed at Panchayat offices. For the first time, Rs. 500 per tree relief was announced for damage to orange trees. Directives were given to also survey failed arhar crops.

In wheat procurement also, humanitarian approach towards farmers was adopted. For the first time in the state, provision for relief on loss to crops due to untimely rains was added to Revenue Book of Circulars and wheat grains having lost shine and become thin were also procured. The state government will bear the amount payable to farmers in addition to that given by insurance companies. The Chief Minister also met the Prime Minister for assistance to frost and hailstorm affected farmers. Sensing scant rainfall during Rabi season, the Chief Minister sanctioned a contingency action plan for agriculture at agriculture cabinet in view of weak monsoon. Directives were given to chalk out action plan for every district.

Farmers were given Rs. 5500 crore subsidy on electricity. On directives of the Chief Minister widespread amendments were made in Revenue Book of Circulars. Relief for loss of life due to natural calamities was increased from Rs. 1.50 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh. Chalking out action plan to deal with soybean disease and caterpillar menace, state level control room and diagnostic teams were constituted.

SMS advisories and social media were used to give advice to farmers. Arrangements were made to give temporary electricity connections to farmers during Rabi season on deposit of 2 advance bills. Due to it, 6 lakh farmers got Rs. 180 crore relief. For the first time in state’s history, government departments’ budget were curtailed by 14 percent and vehicle purchase was banned in view of drought.