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Heavy Rains Batter Three Regions in Maharashtra, Farmers Incur Huge Losses

Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and parts of Konkan are facing heavy, unseasonal rains since two days and it has destroyed crops and disrupted normal life.
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Haribhau Gate was hoping to get at least Rs 50,000 for the soyabean crop in his farm in Tuljapur teshil in Osmanabad district. It was his last hope for this monsoon as he couldn't go sow pulses this year due to the lack of money. But, the heavy rains since Tuesday have drowned his hopes; his entire crop was washed away as his farm is close to the river.

"Close to 50% fields in our village are under water right now. It was a storm for three days. We have never seen rain like this in the month of October," said Gate. He is one of the lakhs of farmers in Maharashtra who have lost their Kharif crops because of the unseasonal heavy rains.

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Three regions in Maharashtra -- Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and Konkan -- are mainly witnessing the heavy rains. In North Maharashtra, Ahmednagar is the highly-affected district. Marathwada, Beed and Osmanabad have also seen floods with overflowing rivers, which used to go dry by November end.

Manoj Gaikwad from Miraj tehsil of Sangli district had sown two crops in his village Aarag—Tomatoes and baby corn. But Sangali district has witnessed 560 mm rains on Monday alone and now, Manoj's crops are under water. "The corn crop was growing in two acres and tomato in one. The corn has been completely damaged. I cut it for the use of fodder for cows. Only around 30% Tomatoes are surviving. I spent Rs 5,000 on Wednesday to stand the plants again. But overall, my losses are in Rs 2 lakhs this season due to rains," said Gaikwad.

Farmers’ organisations are demanding immediate help to farmers to deal with the current situation. All India Kisan Sabha Maharashtra general secretary, Dr Ajit Nawale said that the government should give Rs 20,000 per acre to farmers as immediate relief. "The revenue department people know the details of crops. So, the government should not wait for the panchnama (process to assess losses incurred by a farmer) and all. At the outset, it should give Rs 20,000 per acre to farmers. It will be a primary help. Other procedures can wait till then," said Dr Nawale.

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Raju Shetti, a farmer leader and former MP, has also demanded the same. "Immediate relief to farmers is the most needed right now. Otherwise, they will be pressured to take loans and that would lead to the vicious cycle of loans and suicides. So, the government should give primary relief to farmers," said Shetti.

Mainly paddy, vegetables, soybean, pulses – especially Tur – are the highly affected kharif crops in this region. The paddy fields in Konkan region's all four districts have been badly damaged. Sanjay Waghare from Kankavali tehsil was in the middle of harvesting when the rain hit. "One variety of rice is due for harvesting. We were cutting the crop when the rains started. I lost my harvested crop as it was kept outside my farm. Only some people could save their harvested crop with the help of tarpaulin," he said.

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According to Pankaj Shobha Dalavi, a youth from Dapoli tehshil of Ratnagiri district, as much as 80% of paddy field is under water in his area. "The exact number of damaged fields can't be given so early. But we can see that this rain has damaged majority of the paddy crop. It will have a longer impact on the local market soon," he said.

The Maharashtra government has given orders to immediately start the panchnama of damages. It is expected that in the next cabinet meeting, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government will announce relief and compensation policy for the farmers’ loss.

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