Relief announced for damaged orchards quite inadequate: CPI-M

Srinagar: Terming the announced scale of relief under “state-specific special natural calamity” for orchards damaged due to recent heavy snowfall as quite inadequate, CPI (M) on Saturday demanded adequate compensation to the farmers, whose trees got damaged.

CPI (M) held a protest rally at Press Enclave near here, demanding adequate compensation to the snow-affected growers.

Farmers from different parts of the Kashmir valley had assembled here to participate in the rally. Shouting slogans, they demanded the Government should take into account the scale of damage caused by the snowfall while finalising the compensation package.

Addressing the protesters, state secretary of the CPI(M) Ghulam Nabi Malik said the decision of State Executive Committee (SEC) to enhance the quantum of relief from Rs 18,000 per hectare to Rs 36,000 per hectare for damage to perennial crops like apple, is insufficient given the quantum of destruction caused due to the heavy snowfall. Besides, the huge damage to the present crop, the snowfall caused massive damage to fruit trees.

Malik said a tree, which got damaged due to the snow, is a recurring loss for the farmer for years to come. The early snowfall has not only affected the returns this year, but is bound to affect the returns from the horticulture crops for the years to come. The Government should provide compensation keeping in view the recurring losses to the farmers. The earning of farmers, whose livelihood is dependent on it, will come down drastically in the years to come. A tree takes at least a decade to mature and the snowfall has ruined the hard work of years of farmers.

Millions of trees have been damaged due to the snowfall and the mainstay of the Kashmir economy – horticulture – is in shambles. The SKUAST experts must also give technical support to the farmers for binding of damaged trees for their recovery.

While demanding one-time exemption of KCC loan to the small farmers and fruit growers whose harvest was damaged by the snowfall, Mohammad Afzal Parray called for the implementation of Crop Insurance Scheme (CIS) in the state. Though the announcement of crop insurance scheme was made by the government, it is unfortunate that the said scheme is not implemented so far here.

While then PDP-BJP government in the state implemented Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)in some areas of Jammu division nearly two years ago to give them cushion in times of natural calamities, the fruit growers and farmers in Kashmir are still waiting for the same. The lackadaisical approach of the then government has resulted in huge losses to farmers and growers in Kashmir as hailstorm, snowfall and drought has damaged orchards and fruit trees time and again.

It becomes an obligation for the government to come to the support and succor of the farmers and orchardists as they form the backbone of the state’s economy and have always been suffering on account weather vagaries.

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