Pink Bollworm attack: Maharashtra demands Rs 93-cr penalty from seed firms

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Pune | Published: August 8, 2018 3:30:57 AM

The Maharashtra agriculture department has directed seed companies to pay compensation worth Rs 93 crore to cotton farmers for the damage caused by the Pink Bollworm attack, top officials said.

Pink Bollworm attack, Maharashtra agriculture, seed firms, National Disaster Relief Fund,  crop insurance cover The hearings in districts of Amravati divison and Beed are still pending. Insurance companies, National Disaster Relief Fund and seed companies are all part of the compensation process under the Pink Bollworm attack.

The Maharashtra agriculture department has directed seed companies to pay compensation worth Rs 93 crore to cotton farmers for the damage caused by the Pink Bollworm attack, top officials said. Notices have been issued to the companies in this regard. So far, hearings in 9 lakh complaints have been completed. A total of about 14 lakh complaints have been filed by farmers, senior officials of the department said.

The hearings in districts of Amravati divison and Beed are still pending. Insurance companies, National Disaster Relief Fund and seed companies are all part of the compensation process under the Pink Bollworm attack. Around 1.55 lakh farmers are expected to receive compensation worth Rs 93 crore for cultivation on 55,000 hectares. Hearings for Akola, Buldhana, Amravati, Washim, and Yavatmal districts in Amravati division and Beed district are yet to be completed.

According to officials, seed companies have been granted one month’s time to file their replies. After this, they can appeal to the Commissioner of Agriculture. At least 12 districts are reported to be affected by pink bollworm. Maharashtra is the first state to seek National Disaster Relief Fund assistance for crop loss due to pest infestation; till now it was only sought citing drought.

The state has sought Rs 3,337 crore aid and relief for pest attack on 42.07 lakh hectares. After punchnamas and assessment of the loss of the cotton crop due to pink bollworm, the state government in December 2017, announced compensation for farmers at Rs 30,800 per hectare.

Of this, Rs 6,800 a hectare was to be given from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), Rs 8,000 from the crop insurance cover and Rs 16,000 from the claims from the seed companies. Though the compensation from two components has to come from the respective companies, the third component has to be paid by the state government.

The state, in January, sent a memorandum to the Centre demanding Rs 2,425 crore and later revised the amount to Rs 3,373 crore in March demanding the assistance under NDRF. Since the Centre raised the queries related to the memorandum, and the delay led to further uproar among the farmers, the state government issued the GR on March 17 announcing that it would compensate the farmers from its own kitty without waiting for the Centre to release the assistance. However, the financial condition of the state was poor last year and did not allow the government to release the funds.

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