Kerala urges Centre to rush team to assess crop damage

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Kochi, Mar 22 (UNI) Unprecedented heavy summer rains have damaged standing paddy crop worth Rs 100 crore and cash crops worth Rs 175 crore in the Kerala, State Revenue Minister K P Rajendran said today.

Addressing a press conference here, he said Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged that a special Central team be rushed to the Kerala to assess the damage.

He said State Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran and himself would go to Delhi in a couple of days to personally apprise Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar of the devastation caused by the rains.

Mr Rajendran said the standing paddy crop worth Rs 100 crore had been damaged, including 700 acres in Palakkad and 860 acres in Malappuram. Cash crops like coffee and pepper had suffered severe damage to the extent of Rs 175 crore. Nearly 420 houses were damaged and eight people killed in the rains.

The Minister said the Centre had on February 27 sanctioned Rs 134.39 crore to the Kerala from the National Calamity Contingency Fund as relief for the damage caused by floods last year. While Rs 50 crore of this had been given to the State, Rs 84 crore was pending.

The Centre should immediately release the balance amount to help the State tide over the present problem, he added.

Union Ministers and political leaders from the State, cutting across party lines, should pressurise the Centre to release the money, he said, adding that the State had asked the Centre for Rs 641.29 crore as flood relief last year, but only Rs 134.39 crore had been sactioned.

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