Unseasonal rain and hail has destroyed huge tracts of horticulture crops, standing rabi mustard and gram crops in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, ringing alarm bells in government circles here.

Central teams are being rushed to Maharashtra to assess the damage to banana, grape and pomegranate plantations before providing relief. Onion fields have been inundated and flowering mango orchards have been damaged. Teams are ready to be dispatched to Madhya Pradesh as well.

“Yes, heavy unseasonal rains and hail have hit crops in certain States in the last five to six days,” Union Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna confirmed to The Hindu.

“Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have written to the Centre about damage to crops. Of the two States, Maharashtra has sent a memorandum for assessment by central teams. We are awaiting a memorandum from MP to send our team for spot assessment,” he said.

As the Centre was expecting record food grain harvest this year, the crop damage has its dampened spirits.

The government is closely monitoring the situation.

The rains lashed Vidarbha region on Thursday and have not ceased since. Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has abandoned political activity and is intensively touring the State.

With more rain predicted next week farmers have been advised to take advantage of sunny days and harvest ready crops “quickly.”

Although the model code of conduct is in place in view of the Lok Sabha election, official sources said the guidelines do allow provision of relief in case of natural calamity. “Even so, we will seek permission of the Election Commission for providing relief to farmers.”

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