Farmers in Asola village look for their names in the list of government aid at the gram panchayat wall.
[Maharashtra is facing one of the most severe droughts since 1972, with the state government declaring drought in 180 tehsils out of 350. Entire Marathwada (spread across Southern and Eastern Maharashtra) region is in dire condition now. This is Part 6 of the series of ground reports by NewsClick.]
When NewsClick reached there, farmers in Asola village of Dharur Tehsil in Beed district were looking for their names on notice boards stuck on the wall of the gram panchayat office. They had just come to know that the government has declared the list for different aides. Everyone was searching for their name in the long list. Few returned with smile on faces, but many were disappointed.
Thirty-five years old Mahadev Munde’s name is there in the list. “I have got Rs 5,372 as aid for the current drought and Rs 4,554 for damage to crops in 2016 due to heavy rains,” said Mahadev. The total amount of aid till now is a mere Rs 9,926. On being asked if he is satisfied with this amount, Mahadev said, “What will I get if I say that I am not happy? Will this government give me extra? So, it’s better to keep quiet and receive whatever you get.” This is the story on ground of the many highly advertised but badly implemented schemes for farmers in Maharashtra.
His neighbour Rama Shankar Suravase explains the reality of the aid given by the state government. “I have 3 acres of land. I used to earn around Rs 1 lakh from our cotton crop per year. But this year, it is just Rs 40,000. This is how much I invest in the farm. From seeds to planting to fertilisers, it all took Rs 40,000. So, what is my profit? Zero. In such a situation, I got Rs 6,800 as aid. Will this be adequate? It is just Rs 2100 per acre,” said Suravase.
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Maharashtra government has declared drought in 180 tehsils out of 350. It has also announced that the farmers will be taken care of, and the process to transferring the aid amount to farmers has also started. But the given aid is so minimum that farmers won’t be able to survive even a month with it.
“We have already demanded that the farmers should get Rs 40,000 as drought aid. The government has given a list of the number of schemes for the farmers. It has also assured us that they will think about increasing the amount of aid per acre. This Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 is so less that it doesn’t come as help but it looks like a cruel joke,” said Dr Ajit Navale of the All India Kisan Sabha.
But Asole is one of the very few villages in the Maharashtra which were lucky. There are a number of other villages where farmers have not seen even the minimum aid. Dattabhau Aasalkar of Ieet village in Bhoom tehsil of Osmanabad said, “No farmer in our village has received a single rupee for drought till now. We have just seen on news on television channels that the government is giving money to the farmers.”
The aid and rehabilitation minister Chandrakant Patil told NewsClick over telephone that the process of transferring the amount has already started in many villages. “It could be true that few villages may have bene left behind. But I want to assure all the farmers that the state government is committed to give adequate help to everyone facing drought. The total amount sanctioned for drought related help and other work is Rs 8,000 crore, the highest in Maharashtra till the date,” said Patil.
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In Botkul village of Nilanga tehsil in Latur district, 28 years old farmer Sachin More took NewsClick to a banana farm in his village, where the entire crop was damaged. He said, “Look at this farm, the owner would have earned minimum Rs 3 lakh from this. But due to the severe drought, nothing is left in his farm. It is the same story with my papaya plantation. Do you think this meagre amount of Rs 2,000-3,000 can help us in anyway?”
Back in Asola village, sixty-five years Pandurang Sarode quipped on the government aid list at his gram panchayat wall. “Tumhala vatate hi madat aali? Nahi. Hi tar election aali! (Do you think we have received help? No! It’s just that election has come!)” he said.