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Rs 410cr relief for farmers

Ranchi, July 29: Chief minister Arjun Munda today announced a relief package of Rs 410 crore for the 39 lakh farmers’ households in the state to tide over the adverse impact of erratic rainfall on the kharif crop this year.

Of the package, Rs 150 crore will be utilised to offer subsidy to the farmers to purchase diesel for irrigating their fields. A sum of Rs 240 crore will be made available to the 39 lakh farmers as interest free loan through banks.

Around 20 lakh farmers’ families have already received kisan credit cards, while the cards are being issued to nine lakh more households under a special drive for kharif crops.

Stressing on the production of oilseeds and pulses, the chief minister also directed the officials to make Rs 20 crore available for seeds for alternative crops to cultivate 4 lakh hectare land with pulses and oil seeds.

Munda today held an emergent meeting with senior officials, including development commissioner Debashish Gupta, and read out the riot act to them to initiate action on his directive within two days.

Others who attended the meeting included agriculture secretary Arun Kumar Singh, forest secretary Alka Tiwary, planning secretary Avinash Kumar and director, agriculture, K.K. Soan.

The chief minister’s swift move is said to be aimed at blunting the all-round attack, particularly from alliance partner JMM, on the government for allowing chief secretary S.K. Choudhary to visit London for the Olympics when the state was faced with a drought-like situation and the land imbroglio in Nagri.

Munda, however, told The Telegraph that such decisions were taken by “political masters”. “The persons who can take such decisions are in Jharkhand. So, the foreign visit of a few bureaucrats should not be made a big issue,” he maintained.

According to agriculture sources, the state has faced 35 per cent rain deficit since April. It has received 256mm rain against the average of 327mm till July 28, putting the deficit at 22 per cent. It was 42 per cent in June as it received 115.10mm rainfall against an average of 196.60mm.

Besides, the monsoon arrived in the state 15 days late, with several farmers unable to sow seeds for paddy crops.

Sources added the paddy crops had been planted in 4.12 lakh hectares against the target of 18.20 lakh hectares, a deficit of 23 per cent. Other crops like maize, oil seeds and pulses have also been affected.

Munda also took stock of the dal-bhat yojana and asked the officials to streamline the implementation of the scheme meant for the poor.

The chief minister said the government had also requested the Centre to extend the crop insurance deadline to August 30.

He directed the agriculture directorate and the planning department to send a letter to all the districts and train the officers through videoconferencing on how to reach out benefits to the farmers.