Over 50 % Kharif crops damaged by drought in Himachal – Gulab Singh

Shimla: With the entire state being declared drought affected, the agriculture department has prepared a contingency plan to provide relief as there is a loss of more than 50 percent in ‘kharif’ crops sown and fruit production too has been hit with losses estimated to cross Rs 248 crores, Gulab Singh Thakur, revenue minister, said in the Vidhan Sabha, today.

In a suo motto statement the minister said that kharif sowing was carried out on only about 70 percent of the area but deficient rainfall had damaged over 50 percent of the crop because of drought like situation. Deficient rainfall had been reported over 363,120 hecatres of agricultural land and in 265,103 crop loss was over 50 percent, said Gulab Singh.

Farmers were being given subsidy for sowing pulses and oil seeds for which an amount of Rs 1 crore had been sanctioned, he said.

The horticulture department has reported fruit production in all districts has been affected and losses had been estimated at Rs 248 crore.

As dry conditions have been prevailing since October 2008, the 2008-09 rabi crop was severely damaged and the government ordered a special girdarwari in February 2009 to assess crop damages.

On receiving the report from deputy commissioners which put losses as high as 80 percent in some districts, land revenue was suspended and remission of was ordered where land revenue had been collected.

A subsidy of Rs 3.25 crore was released for Kharif crops input subsidy and Rs 1.75 crore to horticulture subsidy on pesticides, Rs 5.20 crore was released to DC’s for transportation of drinking water, Rs 14.34 crore for installing hand-pumps in Mandi, Solan and Kangra districts and Rs 3.72 crore for transportation of fodder, the minister said. To provide immediate relief, additional Rs 7 crore has been approved by the cabinet, he said.

For the year 2009-10, the state is entitled to Rs 113.21 crore under calamity relief fund of which Rs 84.91 crore is to be provided by the central government. However, the centre has so far only released Rs 21.22 crore and the state has requested for the balance amount to be released soon, state Gulab Singh.

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