Nitish meets Sharad Pawar, pleads for Rs. 11,000 cr. assistance

The High-Level Committee on Calamity Relief has received memoranda from Bihar, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala seeking Central assistance.

Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala have sought assistance from the National Calamity Contingency Fund for flood relief, while Bihar has reported loss of kharif crop from deficient rain this monsoon.

A Central team will visit Bihar for assessing the damage to the standing crop due to drought, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after the latter met him on Thursday and submitted a memorandum for a Central assistance of Rs. 11,000 crore.

Southwest monsoon has been deficient by 25 per cent in the east and north eastern regions this kharif season, affecting Bihar among other States. In some other parts of the country, including Vidarbha in Maharashtra, rain has been much above normal, resulting in floods.

Mr. Pawar, who heads the High-Level Committee on Calamity Relief, has also received a request for assistance to the tune of Rs. 1,514 crore for the flood-affected districts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra. Last week, Mr. Pawar visited the affected Wardha, Nagpur, Yavatmal, Gondia and Bhandara districts.

The committee met on Thursday and discussed the memoranda received from the Himachal Pradesh and Kerala governments seeking assistance for flood damage. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Pawar said Bihar had declared drought in 33 of 36 districts that were under stress owing to deficient monsoon. The State has announced a diesel subsidy for which it wanted the Centre to share the burden.

In the case of Vidarbha, the Minister said, a sizeable crop of cotton, soyabean and paddy had been affected. “The damage has been mixed. The fields near nallahs or canals have been inundated and suffered larger losses. The soyabean yield will be lower and the size of the grain will be smaller,” he said.

An Inter-Ministerial Group of Secretaries from the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Home and Water Resources will consider the reports of the Central teams, which would visit the affected States, and make its recommendation to the High-Level Committee.

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