India - Farmers to hold rally for crop loss compensation

08.08.2022 178 views

After facing crop destruction and subsequent losses, the farmers in Karnataka have decided to hold protest on all the state and national highways (NH) next week to demand adequate compensation from the state government as the heavy downpour continues to damage their harvest.

President of the Karnataka Sugarcane Cultivators’ Association and part of the Rajya Raitha Sanghagala Okkutta, Kurubur Shanthakumar on Friday said, “Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has barely looked at the state of farmers.”

“The farmers have been suffering due to unseasonal and excessive rains, flooding, landslides, falling prices of produce, rising debt and lack of measures to protect the community from sharp fluctuations in the market among other factor,” he said.

At least three major farmer unions will take part in the one-day protest and decide how to take the agitation forward. 

“We will hold a protest on all state and national highways across the state to get the government to listen to our demands which includes the loss of agricultural income for the last two years due to heavy rains and failure to pay adequate compensation,” Shanthakumar said.

The statements come at a time when rainfall across most parts of the southern state has been excessive, causing loss of human and animal life, damage to crops, homes, property and livelihood, adding to the rising hardships of the farmers and fuelling agrarian distress.

Between June 1 and August 2, the government has estimated that over 20266 hectares of crop damage due to heavy rains.

In the same time frame, Karnataka has estimated that at least 60 people and over 400 animals were killed.

The assistance from the state or Union government under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) has been inadequate to say the least.

From 2009 to 2018, Karnataka has estimated losses of ₹20,242 crore exclusively from floods and hailstorms in the state. However, it has received just over 12% or ₹2496.12 crore funds from the Centre, data shows.

The lack of a transparent mechanism to calculate financial assistance provides little clarity regarding how the Centre decides the quantum of fund release as against the actual losses claimed by the state.

For instance, Karnataka suffered losses of ₹2742 crore in the floods during August 2013 but the Centre released only ₹ 76.53 crore. For floods in October 2009, the state sought ₹7,047 crore but received ₹1457.49 crore. The Centre released no funds for floods from June-September 2010 as against estimated loss of ₹1045 crore, highlighting the arbitrary nature in which relief is calculated by the Centre.

“The government has been relying on the age-old NDRF rules when it comes to compensating farmers but are happy to give 10% wage hikes to its employees. There has been massive damages due to landslides, flooding, overflowing lakes and other factors that has impacted the sowing cycle as well. If the government supports its farmers, then the farmer will overcome any adversity,” Kodihalli Chandrashekar, the president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a farmer organisation, said.

Bommai, on July 13, had said that though NDRF norms prescribe ₹3,200 compensation for house collapse as an immediate relief and the state government is giving ₹10,000 and up to ₹ 5 lakh on total damage of the house.

“As for crop losses, the NDRF has fixed an input subsidy of ₹6,800 per hectare for dry land crops, however the state government is paying ₹13,600. Similarly this year too, ₹13,600 would be paid as farm input subsidy per hectare,” Bommai had said.

“For wetland crops ₹25,000 would be paid per hectare as against the input subsidy of ₹13,500 fixed by the Union government. For horticulture crops, the union government is providing an input subsidy of ₹18,000,while the state government is giving ₹28,000 to help the farmers,” Bommai said.

Farmers have said that most of these statements mean little to them.

“The CM has already announced additional crop compensation over and above the NDRF norms,” said a senior official of the finance department, requesting anonymity, on Friday.

He said that there were no additional relief measures like farm loan waivers that were currently before the government.

Source - https://www.hindustantimes.com

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