Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Thursday announced compensation for farmers who suffered crop losses over unseasonal rains this March. However, the decision has not brought pleasure to all farmers of the state.
Responding to yesterday’s announcement by the chief minister over disaster relief assistance to farmers, Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV) organized a press meet at Somajiguda press club, with flood-affected farmers and Tenant farmers from 4 districts describing their situation and response to the CM’s announcement.
RSV welcomed the government’s decision to provide Rs 10,000 per acre support for crop damage in 2.2 lakh acres during March 2023, and to direct the support to tenant farmers wherever they are cultivating.
However, RSV activists said, “If the government is serious about addressing the issues on an ongoing basis, this support should not remain a one-time exercise for the damage caused in this month, but made into a policy decision. Lakhs of acres of crop damage is being suffered every season by farmers due to natural calamities or pest attacks.”
They urged the Telangana government to announce a policy decision to give Rs 10,000 per acre support to all affected farmers and enumerate affected farmers immediately after the calamity in a routine manner – “not related to political developments.”
“The identification and inclusion of tenant farmers should not be a one-time measure, but it should be done every year, as required by the Licensed Cultivators Act, 2011. Only then, the distress of the farmers in the state will be addressed,” they added.
Two flood-affected farmers from Kupti village, Neredigonda Mandal, Adilabad district, Badha Venkataramana and Haridas Ramanayya shared their situation.
Venakataramana said, “More than 50 farmers in our village suffered severe crop damage during the heavy rains and floods of July 2022. We are asking the Chief Minister – you should give disaster relief support to us too! I cultivated 5 acres of leased land and 5 acres of own land, and completely lost my cotton and soybean crops.”
He stated that officials visited and noted the details but the farmers did not receive any compensation. Along with other farmers in the district, they filed a writ petition in the High Court. “But the government is claiming that our crops recovered magically within a week, whereas our lands remained water-logged for almost 2 months due to flooding,” they said.
RSV activists informed that the court hearings are still ongoing, and demanded that the government should extend the same support to these farmers also.
Kurva Manjula, from Thondapalli village, Parigi Mandal, Vikarabad district stated, “My husband was a tenant farmer who committed suicide on March 1, 2021. We used to lease 5.5 acres of land and cultivate, but we suffered severe crop loss in 2020 and 2021 due to heavy rains and flooding. Due to this, we could not repay high debt of Rs 7 lakhs and my husband lost hope and committed suicide,” she stated narrating her ordeal.
“We did not receive Rythu Bima because we are tenant farmers, nor did we get any ex-gratia from the government. I am struggling with 3 young children, and am still a tenant cultivator, trying to repay the debts.”
She demanded that the government provide ex-gratia of Rs 6 lakhs to victims like her, and also identify the tenant farmers every year and give them LEC cards so that they can also benefit from government schemes and support systems.
Three other tenant farmers participated, who suffered severe crop damage in the past 3 years. Durga Reddy from Dattaipalli village and Balayya from Velpalli village in M.Turkapally mandal, Yadadri district; and Kusuma Samdram Ramesh from Madharam village, Parigi mandal, Vikarabad district.
Key facts on the Crop Damage issue and Tenant Farmers identification
- Telangana is the only state in the country which doesn’t have any Crop Insurance scheme for the last 3 years since 2020. At the same time, the Telangana government has not been providing Disaster relief support by input subsidy as required by National Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- Lakhs of acres of crop damage is happening every year due to natural calamities, but since the past 6 years, the Telangana government has not provided disaster relief support. Only when RSV activists filed High Court petition, the government disbursed Rs.23 crores disaster relief in 2018.
- RSV has been fighting a legal battle through PIL filed in Telangana High Court in November 2020 (W.P. PIL No. 290/2020) regarding crop damage due to heavy rains and floods of October 2020. Despite historic judgment in September 2021, the Government has not distributed relief, and instead appealed in Supreme Court. There was severe crop damage in 15 lakh acres, as per Govt of Telangana’s final assessment report sent to the Centre requesting relief support of Rs.552 crores. The Disaster Management Authority at the Centre gave approval for Rs.188 crores from NDRF/SDRF in February 2021, but even these relief funds have so far not been disbursed.
- Severe crop damage happened in 2021 and 2022 also due to flooding, heavy rainstorms, Kaleswaram backwaters, hailstorms, and pest attack. Just a few months ago, in July 2022, lakhs of acres were damaged along in heavy rains in many districts along the Godavari river. Several Writ Petitions were filed in High Court by affected farmers demanding compensation but so far the Government has been denying any responsibility to provide disaster relief support.
- The Licensed Cultivators Act, 2011 requires the State government to identify Tenant Farmers through a simple application and gram sabha verification, and issue Loan Eligibility Cards (LEC) which make them eligible for all government schemes. However, after 2016-17, the Government has not been implementing this Act – which gives a regular process to identify tenant cultivators.
a. TS Government should announce policy decisions on Rs 10,000 per acre disaster relief support for crop damage and inclusion of tenant farmers, for all calamities in recent years and in the future.
b. Disaster relief support should be provided to affected farmers of the last 3 years.
c. Effective & Farmer-friendly Crop Insurance scheme should be implemented in TS state, releasing the Notification by May 1, 2023, so that it comes into effect immediately for Kharif 2023.
d. Tenant Farmers should be identified every year, as per Licensed Cultivators Act 2011, provided LEC cards, and given the benefit of all government schemes & support systems including crop loans. Tenant farmers should be noted in the E-crop booking system also.