Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday decided to grant Rs.10,000 a hectare to paddy cultivators whose crop was destroyed in last week’s heavy rain.

Farmers who suffered partial loss would get assistance in proportion to the damage.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who briefed the media on the Cabinet decisions, said the assistance, which was to help the farmers to recultivate the fields, would be disbursed from Thursday onwards.

The Chief Minister said that paddy in 28,321 hectares belonging to 40,826 farmers had been hit by the rain, according to preliminary estimates. Of these, crop in 17,000 hectares had been destroyed.

The total loss of paddy came to about 1,40,000 tonnes, according to an assessment made by an high-level official committee.

Mr. Achuthanandan said that Rs.25 crore was required for payment of the assistance. The government had already sanctioned Rs.12 crore.

The rain had also hit crops such as cashew, mango, pepper and banana.

The affected farmers would be compensated on the basis of the report of Collectors.

The government had received information that the Central team to assess the damage to crops had already left for Kerala.

Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran told journalists that the State government wanted the Centre to contribute liberally for providing compensation to farmers.

The Minister said the affected farmers would get full compensation (Rs.10,000) if 50 per cent of the crop had been lost. Paddy with moisture content exceeding 17 per cent or organic content exceeding one per cent would be treated as damaged as per Central norms.

The procurement price for such damaged paddy would be decided later by an official committee headed by the Agriculture Production Commissioner.

Assessments about partial losses could be completed only after harvesting.