Bhopal, Mar 18: Majority of the farmers in Madhya Pradesh were affected by drought, pest attack, frost and cold wave and for the first time, drought had been included in natural calamity to provide compensation to farmers, the government informed the Assembly today.
Amid slogan-shouting, entire opposition also staged a walkout charging the government with being insensitive to the woes of farmers and the government not coming forward to waive payment of electricity bills of drought-hit farmers.
Replying to the debate on a call attention notice on crop loss in different areas of the state, Revenue Minister Kamal Patel said assessment of crop loss was still in progress and directives issued to all District Collectors to immediately disburse compensation to affected farmers and to start drought relief works whereever needed.
''There is no shortage of funds and relief works would be started on warfooting'', Mr Patel said, adding there was no provision for providing compensation to farmers, who suffered loss as they could not undertake sowing due to scarce rains.
Mr Patel was grilled several times for delay in conducting crop survey. He, however, said Gram panchayat-level committees had been formed to survey crop damage.
The opposition members contended that severe drought loomed over 164 tahsils spread over 39 districts and many districts were facing drought for the fourth year in a row.
Mr Patel said collectors had been directed to grant technical approval of works within a week and to convert short-term agriculture loans into long-term loans. It would be ensured that the affected farmers got not less than Rs 500 as compensation, he said.
The minister, however, did not concede the opposition demand to waive power bills of farmers, saying surcharge on electricity bills had already been waived.
Mr Sajjan Singh Verma, Dr Govind Singh, Mr Arif Aqueel, Mr Nishit Patel, Mr Hukum Singh Karada, Mr Indrajit Kumar Patel, Mr Satyadeo Katare, Mr Brijendra Singh Rathore, Mr Ramniwas Rawat (all Cong), Mr Rajraj Singh , Mr Lal Singh Arya, Mr Ramdas Uike and Mr Durgalal Vijay(all BJP), Mr Ramlakhan Sharma (CPI-M), Mr Vanshmani Prasad Verma and Mr Kishor Samrite(SP) and Mr Manmohan Shah Batti(Gondwana Gantantra Party) were among those who took part in the debate.
Mr Arif Aqueel(Cong) staged a walkout while the issue was being debated to protest what he said delayed discussion on the matter.