Treat frost-hit crops as national calamity: MPs


New Delhi : A group of parliament members cutting across party lines demanded in the Lok Sabha Tuesday that frost-affected crops be treated as “national calamity” and distressed farmers be given compensation.

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During zero hour, the MPs led by Hannan Mollah of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Girdhari Lal Bhargava of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), raised the issue of cold wave and frost destroying crops in various parts of the country.

“If the frost and cold wave are treated as a natural calamity, the farmers will get compensation and relief benefits. A lot of crop is destroyed every year due to frost and cold wave, putting farmers in financial hardship. The government must do the needful,” Mollah said.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee allowed the MPs to raise the matter as a matter of urgent public importance. The chair too shared the members’ concern.

Girdhari Lal Bhargava said the Rajasthan government had already sent a request to the central government demanding Rs.2 billion as compensation for crops destroyed by cold wave. According to estimates, frost damaged crops worth Rs.6.77 billion in Rajasthan last year.

“The government has not yet responded positively. It is an important issue and I request the government to clear the special package at the earliest. The wheat and mustard are the main crops affected by frost,” Bhargava said.

Mahavir Bhagora, BJP MP from Salumber reserved constituency, said that farmers in his area were hit by frost and cold wave.

Thupstan Chhewang, an independent MP from Ladakh (J&K), said there was serious shortage of fodder in the region because of heavy snowfall.

He said the government must airdrop adequate quantity of fodder and rations for people in the area.

The government provides relief to the victims of notified natural disasters like flood, tsunami, and drought through the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF), a non-plan fund. An amount of over Rs.213.33 billion has been allocated in the CRF for 2005-10.