Statement of Dr Shakeel Ahmad, Ex MP and Senior Spokesperson, AICC
Even as the debate on the acute agrarian crisis continues in the Parliament and outside, the Government, the Prime Minister and his Ministers- Mr Modi and company are constantly and unabashedly misleading the nation and duping the farmers. The Agriculture Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh intentionally, knowingly and deliberately not only misled the Lok Sabha but the entire country. The Congress Party demands that Shri Radha Mohan Singh comes out clean on the issue and apologizes to the people.
During the course of the debate, a forceful intervention was made by Congress Vice-President & MP, Shri Rahul Gandhi. An all-important issue of reduction in the area eligible for crop compensation by Government of India was raised by him. It was pointed out that agriculture experts and scientists had assessed the area of damaged crops at 181 lakh hectares with loss of over Rs.40,000 crore. It was further pointed out that Government of India and the Prime Minister had reduced this area to 106 lakh hectares with officials of Ministry of Agriculture further unilaterally reducing the area of damaged crop to 80 lakh hectares.
Union Agriculture Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh intervened on behalf of the Government. According to Shri Singh, area of damaged crops assessed at 181 lakh hectares was based on initial telephonic information collected from States. The Minister further asserted that this area was then reduced to 80 lakh hectares at the time of video conferencing taken by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the States. Shri Singh also said that since the date of video conferencing, area has been now assessed at little over 93 lakh hectares.
The Minister made extremely contradictory assertions with the sole aim of intentionally and knowingly misleading the House by stating that area of damaged crops of farmers was assessed at 80 lakh hectares at the time of video conferencing held by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. In fact, this statement of the Agriculture Minister is making the Prime Minister a complicit party to this pathetic exercise of misleading the country.
Annexed at A, is a copy of the press release issued by Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India on 26th March, 2015, which is available on the website of Press Information Bureau also. This press release, at the bottom, clearly states that Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi had taken a video conferencing with States and their concerned Chief Ministers on 23rd March, 2015 and the estimated crop loss has been reduced from 181 lakh hectares to 106 lakh hectares. This press release of Union Agriculture Ministry, which also quotes Union Agriculture Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh, clearly falsifies the statement of Union Agriculture Minister to the effect that area under crop loss was reduced to 80 lakh hectares at the time of video conferencing by the Prime Minister.
Assertion of Union Agriculture Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh that even the first assessment of 181 lakh hectares was merely based on information collected over telephone is also wrong and deliberately made with a view to mislead the House. Press release dated 26th March, 2015 (Annexure-A) also reflects that various States had submitted ‘Memorandum of Loss’ to the Union Agriculture Ministry in writing after assessment of damage to crops. Press release (Annexure-A) further reflects that seven senior officers of Union Agriculture Ministry had gone to seven big States to conduct an assessment of damage. Hence, assessment of crop damage to 181 lakh hectares resulted on account of Memorandum of Loss submitted in writing by State Governments as also assessment conducted by officers of Ministry of Agriculture in seven States.
In fact, the entire country, particularly the crop damaged area of Central and Western India was lashed by massive hailstorms and incessant rains post 26th March, 2015. Actually, quantification of incessant rains post 26th March, 2015, when compared to earlier years, exceeds over 2000% in many area. Attached herewith is the data released by Indian Metrological Department, Government of India and available for the period Ist March, 2015 to 15th April, 2015 including separate data for the period 2nd April, 2015 to 8th April, 2015 and 9th April, 2015 to 15th April, 2015 as Annexures-B and C.
Agriculture Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh has misled the House and the Nation deliberately and needs to apologize for the same.