Lucknow, Apr 7: Unseasonal rain and hailstorms in north India have inflicted damage to crops in Uttar Pradesh. The wet spell, just days ahead of harvest, has has left millions of farmers in the state in lurch.
Watching their crops getting damaged, more than 30 farmers in the state have reportedly lost their lives. Even families of the deceased farmers are claiming that they either committed suicide or died of shock due to loss of crop. But, Akhilesh Yadav government in the state has refuted the reports of farmers' suicide due to crop loss caused by vagaries of nature. [BJP, SP spar over farmer woes in Uttar Pradesh]
"Till date, 35 people have died, but there has been no suicide or shock death due to loss of crop. These deaths were mainly due to incidents of house collapse or lightning," Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan told reporters here.
"35 deaths are directly connected to heavy rainfall and hailstorm. It has not been established anywhere that farmers had committed suicide because of crop loss," he said.
Ranjan said a fresh estimate of crop loss was above Rs 1,100 crore and so far five lakh farmers have been affected.
"The initial estimate was Rs 744 crore, which rose to Rs 850 crore in 33 districts, but as six more districts have been affected in last three days, the estimate has gone above Rs 1,100 crore," he said.
He said as per the central guidelines, there was provision for extending financial assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh in case of death, but the state has added Rs 3.5 lakh from its own resources.
"Besides, the chief minister has added another Rs 2 lakh, thus taking the total compensation package to Rs 7 lakh," he said.
Ranjan said relief work was being carried out at a large scale.
"We had Rs 44 crore left in the state disaster relief fund which was allocated immediately. After that we gave another Rs 200 crore from the state level. Till date, Rs 175 crore has been distributed," he said.
He said that during review with divisional commissioners and district magistrates, the DMs have been directed to distribute the remaining amount in next three days by organising camps.
UP accounts for one-third of the country's wheat from across an estimated area of 99 lakh hectares. It's also the biggest potato producing state, with approximately 7 lakh hectares under potato cultivation.
(With inputs from PTI)