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Maharashtra farmers seek compensation for crop loss

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They blocked the Mumbai-Agra highway for hours, strewing cartons of grapes frozen and damaged by hail

Farmers in several parts of Maharashtra took to the streets on Saturday demanding compensation for their destroyed crops as hailstorms and unseasonal rain continued to ravage the Western and Northern parts of the State.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of farmers from North Maharashtra blocked the Mumbai-Agra highway for hours, strewing cartons of grapes frozen and damaged by hail, accusing the government of being indifferent to their plight.

Beleaguered farmers also staged protests in several parts of Nashik district, demanding swift action from authorities. According to reports from district headquarters, around 20,000 hectares in Nashik district alone have been laid to waste by the unseasonal rain with staggering losses in cash crops like wheat, grapes, pomegranates, onion and chilies.

Sangli district in Western Maharashtra witnessed an intense, hour-long bout of hail, while several tehsils in Ahmednagar and Dhule districts have been subjected to unrelenting rain and hail over the last two days leading to the death of one person in rural Dhule.

More than 200 hectares in Ahmednagar are said to be ruined along with severe losses in livestock.

The damage to the Rabi harvest is extensive in Northern Maharashtra, say authorities. This is the second bout of unseasonal climate to hit the State after hailstorms damaged the Kharif crop in Nashik and Osmanabad in March this year, leading to a spurt in farmer suicides in the region.

The State is in the throes of a full-blown agricultural crisis after its drought-prone Eastern parts, namely the rain-shadow regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha have been experiencing consecutive bad rainfall years since 2012. Over 19,000 villages in these parts have been declared ‘drought-hit’ by the Devendra Fadnavis government.

The current winter crisis in agriculture and horticulture is set to stretch the resources of India’s most debt-ridden State.

The situation looks bleak as weather officials expect no let up in the situation for the next 48 hours. More hailstorms are projected in January, they say.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Cooperatives, Dada Bhuse visited Nashik and assured afflicted farmers of speedy relief. Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal, also on a tour of Nashik, demanded the government pay a compensation of Rs. 50,000 per hectare to farmers.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 8:48:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-farmers-seek-compensation-for-crop-loss/article6689856.ece

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