India - Farmers facing repeated crop loss look forward to govt’s aid scheme

25.10.2021 225 views

For years, farmers in southwest Delhi’s Rawta village have had to contend with their farmlands turning into waterbodies during monsoon due to the Najafgarh drain that passes through nearby Gurugram overflowing.

Some farmers have made peace with it, leasing out their submerged farms for pisciculture. But others have suffered the consequences of damaged crops resulting in financial losses. Now, the villagers see hope in chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s assurance on compensation for crop damage.

“Most farmers have no other source of income. So, they must take the risk of investing in crops, even though input costs have been going up and incomes dropping year after year. It is not just the rain calculations anymore; things are getting worse. Floods are more frequent now. There is unplanned development around these villages and large parts of the Najafgarh drain are blocked. Crop damage is more frequent, and farmers have been suffering losses for several years now. The government must help us,” said Amit Yadav, a farmer in Rawta’s neighbouring village of Jhuljhuli.

Kejriwal had on October 20 said that he has issued directions to officials to ensure that farmers in the city who suffered losses due to crop damage this year get compensation of ₹50,000 per hectare — an initiative which, Kejriwal said, the Aam Aadmi Party government in the national capital has been actively pursuing since it came to power in 2015.

He further said that district officials under the revenue department have started a survey, which is likely to be completed within two weeks, following which compensation money will be disbursed to eligible farmers within one-and-a-half months.

Government data showed that Delhi has around 29,000 hectares of farmlands and around 21,000 farmers.

HT visited several villages in the northern, north-western, southern, and south-western peripheries of the Capital this week and found that financial losses caused by crop damage, especially during the monsoons, is a perennial issue.

Although there have been instances of compensations for crop damage earlier, many farmers still don’t trust the system. This year, with the chief minister himself addressing the issue through a press briefing, some of them are hopeful.

Dinesh Rana, a farmer based in Palla village in the northwestern periphery of Delhi, said: “This year, there has been significant crop damage because of excess and unseasonal rain. Farmers are in immense distress. The compensation system is often clumsy but this year there is some hope because the chief minister himself has given assurance.”

Many farmers also assert that the amount of compensation is unreasonably low in the light of current input costs per hectare and the absence of many farming subsidies in Delhi.

Paras Tyagi, co-founder, Centre for Youth Culture, Law and Environment, a Delhi-based public policy group that works primarily on villages, said: “In Delhi, there are almost no subsidies for farmers. So, input cost is very high compared to several other states. In light of the input costs, ₹50,000 per hectare is too little a compensation amount. Secondly, there are loopholes in the system because of which many genuine farmers often get excluded from such schemes. So, there is a lack of trust too. The government has to invest in making the system better.”

“Still, something is better than nothing. The financial burden is too high on farmers. But these are short-term measures. The government needs to come up with long-term measures if it is serious about addressing the issue of crop damage. There have to be infrastructural changes,” said Rajneesh Chauhan, a farmer in Tiggipur village.

Rajesh Shokeen, a farmer based in Dichaon-Kalan village in southwest Delhi, said along with compensation schemes, “the government has to invest on irrigation, subsidies, facilities to pump out flooded water, etc.”

Delhi’s revenue minister Kailash Gahlot said he is monitoring the process as directed by the chief minister. “We will not only ensure that no eligible farmer is excluded from the scheme, but also that they are adequately compensated. The compensation amount in Delhi is higher than in its neighbouring states. We will make sure that no farmer in Delhi is distressed,” Gahlot said.

Source - https://www.hindustantimes.com

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