The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Friday that it would make final payments to all hailstorm-hit farmers by April 15 and complete the survey of affected farms by April 5.
“Otherwise, we will hold you in contempt [of court],” Chief Justice Mohit Shah, heading a Division Bench, told the government.
The court expressed concern at the plight of agricultural labourers who had not been covered by any government scheme. It asked the government to maintain transparency in relief operations.
The Bench was hearing a batch of public interest litigation petitions, which alleged government apathy and sought immediate relief to the farmers. The petitioners pegged the loss to farmers at Rs. 42,000 crore.
Refusing to concede the plea that a survey of crop damage be conducted by using satellite imagery, the government said it had completed more than 90 per cent of the survey using the panchnama method.
Farmers have alleged malpractice and inconsistencies in the method. “Several villages have been skipped during the panchnama. This entire method of disbursal is a scam,” said counsel for Prashant Hiray, one of the petitioners.