Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday released Rs.400 crore for the Andhra Pradesh government as advance from the National Calamity Contingency Fund to take up immediate relief and rehabilitation measures in the State that were affected by unprecedented rains and cyclonic storms in the last few months.
Dr. Singh told a delegation of over 20 Congress MPs that the Centre would take speedy action on the reports of the Central team that toured the State last week to assess the damage caused to the crops and other properties. Additional relief could be provided based on the Central team's assessment.
The delegation was led by Union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy.
The Prime Minister told the delegates that he would direct all Union Ministers to take expeditious action on the issues raised by the MPs in their joint memorandum.
Earlier, the delegation — which included Minister of State for Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi and Minister of State for Steel A. Sai Pratap — asked Dr. Singh to announce a package to help the farmers who lost their produce like paddy, cotton, tobacco, red gram and chilly. Some even committed suicide unable to bear the debt due to the crop losses.
The delegation wanted the Centre to provide relief to the ryots by opening paddy centres, purchasing cotton, waiving the interest on crop loans and rescheduling the existing loans.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy had met Dr. Singh a few days ago and sought assistance.
The announcement on the release of Rs.400 crore comes, even as Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu and Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy are undertaking fasts separately to highlight the plight of the farmers.
The delegates also met Union Ministers Sharad Pawar (Agriculture), Anand Sharma (Commerce) and Dayanidhi Maran (Textiles) and apprised them of the need to take immediate action to help the farmers.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader M. Venkiah Naidu, who is also a member of the Tobacco Board, told journalists that the Board, to help the tobacco farmers in A.P., had taken decisions, among other things, to recommend the payment of Rs.10,000 per hectare as relief for crop damage, waive the interest on crop loans, and reschedule existing agriculture loans.