Punjab’s Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday urged Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to send central teams to access loss in flood hit districts of the state and release special package for its rehabilitation, reconstruction and up gradation on a war footing.
Badal also sought PM’s intervention to have the prevalent norms of relief for damaged crops reviewed and provide atleast Rs 20,000 per acre compensation to farmers in case of complete crop loss.
In his letter, Badal urged Manmohan Singh to send a Central team from the Ministry of Agriculture and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) instantly to assess the damage caused as well as the inadequacies of existing surface drainage infrastructure in the state.
“Huge devastation was caused mainly by incessant rains in the region for 3-4 days after August 15 which not only necessitated releases from the Bhakra, Ranjit Sagar and Pong reservoirs but also caused many drains to overflow, since their water could not flow into the rivers that were already in spate,” Badal said, adding that he had toured the worst-affected parts of the state during past few days and have closely seen the plight of people whose houses, crops and livestock have been damaged.
“Apart from human life, there had been substantial loss to government and community-owned infrastructure also,” Badal said.
The Chief Minister said that the state Government had been working hard to alleviate the sufferings of the people and relief works have been taken up in real earnest. However, the scale of relief allowed under the guidelines for utilization of the State Disaster Response Fund was totally inadequate, and did not provide any meaningful help.
He made special mention for the relief provided in the case of 100% loss to crops in irrigated areas, which had been capped at Rs 9,000/per hectare. By the time the floods occurred, the Kharif crop had fully matured and farmers had already incurred the bulk of the expense on items such as seed, fertilizer, insecticide, diesel etc. By any estimate, this expenditure would be in the region of Rs. 25-30 thousand per acre. To provide as relief of only Rs. 3600/- per acre in these circumstances seems like a cruel joke on the distressed farmers.
Badal rued that a study team under Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission of India, had earlier studied the water logging and drainage problem in the state for paving the way for central infrastructural funding but we are still awaiting its outcome.