Farmers wary of cut in relief

Shyam Ranganathan

“Area declared hit may be reduced”

The exercise to be completed by December 31

The list of affected farmers to be displayed in the VAO’s office

NAGAPATTINAM: Farmers have welcomed the district administration’s decision to speed up the process of crop damage assessment and to provide for an open and transparent system to announce the damage suffered by each farmer. However, they are wary of this leading to a reduction in the relief.

Following the recent flood, the Collector announced the setting up of a team for each village to assess crop damage suffered by each individual. The team comprises the Village Administrative Officer (VAO), the Assistant Officer (Agriculture) and the Assistant Officer (Horticulture). The teams were asked to complete the exercise by December 31 and display the list of all affected farmers in the particular village in the VAO’s office to ensure transparency. There was also a proposal to put up these lists online.

“Positive decision”

Arupathy P. Kalyanam, general secretary, Federation of Farmers Associations, says this is a positive decision. “We welcome transparency as it will eliminate wrongdoing by certain elements. However, we are worried that under this assessment, the area declared affected will be reduced.”

Mr. Kalyanam says the Collector himself said all 1.34 lakh hectares of samba and thaladi crops had been affected. But it is not clear whether the officials will retain the same area as affected after the assessment. Since yields are expected to come down by 50 per cent on an average, he says, the administration should not deny farmers adequate compensation. The government’s relief of Rs.7,500 a hectare is very inadequate, and those affected will go down the drain, if they do not receive even this sum, he reckons.

A senior official told The Hindu that the administration was following all the norms to arrive at a fair assessment. The Assistant Officers would look at the damage in each field and take into account the possible loss at the time of harvest due to submergence. Forest Department officials would be used to assess damage to casuarina plantations.

The list would be put up in the VAO’s office and certified by the tahsildar. As soon as the funds arrived, relief would be disbursed. He denied that there was any move to reduce the area declared affected. The administration, would look into any grievance farmers might have after the list was posted.

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