STATEMENT BY SHRI C.P. JOSHI
“Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi is once again misleading, misguiding and hoodwinking the farmers of India by announcing deceptive relief packages without providing much needed help and succor to the anguished and distressed farmers. Recent hailstorms, unprecedented rains and high velocity winds have caused damage to nearly 180 hectares (447.07 lakh acres) of Rabi crops in 14 States causing damage of Rs.40,000 crores as per agricultural experts and scientists,.
Alleged relaxation of percentages for crops damage and so-called enhancement of compensation by Shri Narendra Modi yesterday is another cruel political gimmick to dupe and deceive the gullible farmers of India.
Indian National Congress would like to place the following falsehoods:-
(1) Relief for damaged crops has been restricted to a maximum of two hectares or five acres. This will automatically deny 50% of farmers the benefit of compensation. (Please see letter dated 8th April, 2015 of Ministry of Home, Disaster Management Division, Government of India, para 5(ii) of Annexure – www.ndmindia.nic.in).
(2) As a double jeopardy, crop damaged area is being reduced manifold by Government of India.
On 26th March, 2015; Shri Narendra Modi held a video conference with the States and reduced the area eligible for crop compensation from 181 lakh hectares (447.07 acres) to 106 lakh hectares (261.82 lakh acres). Copy of press release dated 26th March, 2015 of Agricultural Ministry is attached.
Officials of the Agricultural Ministry, post PM’s announcement of yesterday, are estimating the crop damaged area as 80 lakh hectares (197.60 lakh acres).
Hence, eligible area for crop compensation has been effectively reduced, even as per government assessment, from 181 lakh hectares (447.07 lakh acres) to 80 lakh hectares (197.60 lakh acres) i.e. a reduction of 101 lakh hectares (249.47 lakh acres).
Once, this area is further reduced by 50% based on the maximum two hectares eligible norms, actual area eligible for crop compensation, as per government, would get reduced to near 40 lakh hectares (98.8 lakh acres).
This is a deceptive and clever ploy to deny crop compensation to farmers.
(3) Even the so-called increase in norms of crop compensation by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi would lead to grant of mere pittance to farmers, which is neither adequate nor appropriate.
According to the letter dated 8th April, 2015 referred to in (1) above, new crop compensation norms are as follows:-
(a) Rs.6,800/- per hectare for rain-fed areas i.e. equivalent to Rs.2,750/- per acre for rain-fed area.
(b) Rs.13,500/- per hectare in assured irrigation areas i.e. equivalent to Rs.5,465/- per acre in assured irrigation areas.
Admittedly, damage to Rabi crops is in the range of Rs.20,000/- per acre and above in almost all areas. In such an eventuality, this amount of compensation is neither adequate nor appropriate.
(4) Even the declaration of reduction of norms of damaged crops from 50% to 33% is not new. Shri Narendra Modi and BJP Government must know that almost all States in India already provide compensation for damaged crops between 25% and 50%.
Particularly, Congress ruled States have been paying much higher compensation. A case in point being that of Haryana, where during the Congress Government, compensation per acre was already fixed at Rs.10,000/- per acre. More recently, Karnataka Government has also granted compensation at Rs.9,000/- per acre.
(5) Modi Government is putting the onus of payment of compensation on the State Governments by asking them to first utilize the entire amount of ‘State Disaster Response Fund’ (SDRF) before asking Government of India to provide contribution from ‘National Disaster Response Fund’ (NDRF).
As a multiple jeopardy to the States, latest communication dated 8th April, 2015 of Modi Government, referred to in (1) above, not only provides an obligation to utilize SDRF but also puts a conditionality that in the eventuality of a second crop damage or other disaster, compensation will be altogether denied to that State from NDRF. Para-3 of the letter states as follows:-
“3. As the first charge on SDRF should be on a disaster of severe nature, there has been a requirement to adjust balance amount of SDRF whenever NDRF amount is released. This procedure stands revised as follows:-
50% of SDRF balance, as on 31st March of the preceding financial year, will be adjusted while releasing the assistance from NDRF for the first disaster in a financial year. In case the same State faces another severe disaster during the same year, no adjustment will be made while releasing NDRF assistance.”
This is a classic manner in which States are being first obligated to pay from SDRF and then being denied subsequent compensation from NDRF.
(6) Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi had written to Government of India on 6th April, 2015 asking for grant of a relaxation beyond 14% in Rabi wheat crop in light of overwhelming rain in March/April, 2015 and excessive moisture content.
Relaxation of moisture content has been altogether denied by Modi Government.
Even the undamaged Rabi wheat crop has moisture content of 20%-30% currently on account of unprecedented and repeated rains and hailstorms. Restricting the moisture norms to 14% would lead to non purchase of Rabi wheat crop by FCI and other government agencies leaving the farmers at the mercy of market forces. These reports have already started coming in as wheat has started coming gradually in all markets.
Anti-farmer mindset of Modi Government is, thus, writ large.
(7) Vide letters dated 30th March, Ist April and 8th April, 2015 (copies attached) addressed to States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan by Government of India, only relaxation granted in Rabi wheat procurement is to the extent of 10% for ‘luster lost wheat’ and ‘shriveled and broken grains’.
What is, however, most painful is that a draconian conditionality has been added in these letters for purchase of ‘luster lost wheat’ above 10% and upto 50% at only 1/4th of Minimum Support Price i.e. @ 362.50 per quintal as against MSP of Rs.1450/- per quintal.”