Rainfall in early March resulted in heavy damage to the winter crop across UP. In an announcement last week, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav promised 16.5 crores of compensation to farmers, and surveys to assess the damage. Inspite of official reports to the contrary, people across districts of UP say that in the fortnight that has passed after the rains, no officer has reached their villages for a survey of the losses suffered.
Uttar Pradesh accounts for a third of the country’s wheat and most of its potato crop, and these are the crops ravaged by the sudden heavy rainfall and winds at the beginning of March. Strong voices of protest across villages and kasbahs of UP, and an apparent survey of damages has resulted in the state announcing compensation to the amount of Rs.50 lakh to Mahoba, Hamirpur and Kannauj, Rs.1 crore for Pilibhit, Rs.2 crore each for Banda and Jalaun, Rs.3.80 crore for Mirzapur and Rs.6.20 lakh for Chitrakoot.
In Jaitpur block of Mahoba district, farmers Ramkishor and Ramavatar say that the low rainfall of the preceding year, as well as damages caused by unseasonal hailstorms, had caused enough worry, but they had managed to plant their winter crop. Now, before their compensation for last year’s losses has been realised, whole fields of crops awaiting harvest have been destroyed. The SDMs in Mahoba and Kulpahad said that 50 lakh rupees has been released to the district, for farmers who’s losses exceed 50% of their crop.
Farmers from Prataavipur, Barapatti and Gopalpur villages in Ambedkar Nagar district said that unseasonal rain and strong winds have destroyed the standing stalks of wheat, and halved their potential harvest. Nasreen and Raisunisha from Pura Bazar block in Faizabad, say that they had sown potato on their one bigha of land – it has all rotted. Ramjanam and Sanjay from Tarun block say that their mustard and green pea crop has been ruined by fungus.
Rambahori from Aliha village in Baberu block of Banda district had taken 30 extra bighas of land on contract, in addition to his own, to cultivate wheat and masoor daal. ‘It’s all washed away in the rain’ he said. The Tehsildar in Baberu, Lalaram, said that a team of Lekhpals had been formed to begin surveying the land and losses in each village. But until the time Khabar Lahariya’s report was filed, no survey of his losses had been done. Farmers Radhe Shyam and Ram Prasad from Anthua and Gola Pegambarpur in Mahua block said that their entire year’s income, solely dependent on their land, was severely affected and they did not know how they would make ends meet. ‘We are in a state of shock, and there is no reason for us to hope that a compensation will be paid,’ they told Khabar Lahariya. No officer had come to survey their land till now.
Grandiose promises regarding compensation and assessment of losses notwithstanding, the Chief Minister refused to meet with farmers who asked to see him, in a recent visit to Banda. In his address, amidst a string of statements about the schemes launched by his government, Yadav added that farmers be provided a ‘bonus’ to compensate for the losses they have suffered. Outraged, farmers can only wait for some of Yadav’s announcements to translate to action. ‘An order has been issued to the Lekhpals [official in charge of village land and revenue records] to begin surveys of the land. After we receive their report, a compensation will be determined according to the quantum of losses,’ the SDM R.K. Srivastav told us. If the Tehsildar is to be believed, surveys have already begun, and according to the SDM, the order is only now being issued. But farmers across the washed out districts of UP are yet to see any official survey their land.
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