New Delhi, Mar 19: The government will seek the Election Commission's permission tomorrow to announce a relief package to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, two states where crops were damaged by untimely rain and hailstorm early this month.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on crops, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, in its meeting here today decided to extend relief to these two states. The development comes amdist reports that several farmers have committed suicide in hailstorm-hit districts in Maharashtra.
On reports of farmer suicides, Pawar said: "We have not received any communication from the state on this issue." Asked about the quantum of relief, Pawar told reporters, "I cannot share due to model code of conduct. EGoM met today and discussed about the crop damage in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. We have taken some views on the proposals sent by states. We will communicate to the Election Commission for clearance tomorrow."
Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Home Minister Shushil Kumar Shinde were also present in the EGoM meeting. Pawar said about 30 lakh hectares of land that cultivate crops, including wheat, pulses, onion and grapes, have been damaged in the two states by unseasonal rain.
In Maharashtra, crops in 17,69,403 hectares in 28 districts have been damaged, while in Madhya Pradesh 11,55,993 hectares in 51 districts have been hit, he said. When asked if EGoM considered any relief package to Karnataka and Rajasthan, Pawar said: "We received a memorandum from Karanataka one hour before the EGoM meeting. We have not yet received any memorandum from Rajasthan as of now.
" In Karnataka, 1,84,070 hectares in 13 districts, including Tumkur, Kolar and Mandya, have been affected. "We will soon constitute a team and despatch it to the state for assessing the situation. After the team submits the report, we we will meet again to decide on relief," he said.
According to sources, the Maharashtra government had sought a relief of Rs 1,427 crore.