Centre to states: Provide swift relief to farmers

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Vishwa Mohan,TNN | Apr 3, 2015, 04.02 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Farmers who lost their rabi crops in the recent rains and hailstorms may approach the district administration for instant relief as the Centre has asked states to immediately disburse money from their disaster relief funds.

The Centre's missive went to states last month amid demand for relief from farmers who lost their standing crops on 106.73 lakh hectares across 14 states.

Under existing rules, states can extend relief to farmers from their respective State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) by notifying "local disaster" that led to crop loss.

The SDRF has Rs 61,219 crore for 2015-20 as per the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission. In the current fiscal, the fund has Rs 11,001 crore which can be used to compensate disaster during 2015-16.

Since the extent of loss to farmers will be more than Rs 11,001 crore, states will be assisted by the Centre with additional funds.

In its note to states, the agriculture ministry said, "If additional financial assistance, over and above the SDRF, is required, a memorandum may be submitted for consideration as per procedures/norms for assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)."

The ministry also instructed states to ensure that all individual beneficiaries must get financial assistance through their bank accounts.

At present, financial assistance is given to affected farmers under SDRF and NDRF in cases of 12 notified natural disasters — hailstorm, flood, cyclone, cloudburst, drought, earthquake, tsunami, landslide, avalanche, fire, pest attack and cold wave/frost.

Accordingly, different states can notify the disasters in the local context and earmark expenditure for extending relief to farmers.

State governments can, under the norms, provide assistance to farmers at the rate of Rs 4,500 per hectare for rain-fed areas, Rs 9,000 per hectare for irrigated areas and Rs 12,000 per hectare for perennial crop areas.

Though the Centre is mulling raising the compensation limit for farmers affected by the recent rains and hailstorms, a final decision will be taken after arriving at the quantum of financial loss once the harvest of rabi crops starts in the next few days.