The Punjab Government has approved Rs 1.19 crore as compensation for crop damage due to fire. Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria said the Government had approved Rs 1.19 crore for 1,491 acre crop damage due to fire during 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Every year, more than 100 farm fires are reported in the Punjab State, ravaging thousands of acres of ripened crop, particularly wheat. Bharatiya Kisan Manch General Secretary Gurmail Singh said the compensation should be increased to Rs 20,000 per acre to cover the input costs and another Rs 5,000 per acre so that the affected farmer’s family got financial support.
Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Association (CIFA) President Satnam Singh Behru said the compensation should be around Rs 40,000 and calculated on the basis of the yield in other fields of the same village. Farm union members alleged that despite repeated requests to the PSPCL staff to strengthen power lines, only temporary arrangements had been made, making fields vulnerable to fires.
The relief has been released to the Deputy Commissioners for further distribution among the affected farmers. The minister said some farmers had suffered a heavy loss of crop in fire incidents and the compensation would prove a big relief for them.
270-acre crop was damaged during 2017-18, for which Rs 21.65 lakh had been approved. The relief has been sanctioned for Mansa, Tarn Taran, Fatehgarh Sahib, Muktsar, Faridkot, Roopnagar, Bathinda, SBS Nagar and Moga districts. He said Rs 97.71 lakh had been approved as compensation for 1221-acre crop damage in fire incidents during 2018-19.
The state government has hiked compensation for fire incidents in wheat fields due to faulty power lines from Rs 8,000 per acre to Rs 12,000. However, farm unions, who are seeking relief of Rs 40,000 per acre, have rejected the hike, claiming that it’s not enough to cover crop damage.
Earlier, the government has ordered that farmers with crop loss of 76-100 percent will get revised compensation. Of this, Rs 5,400 per acre will come from the NDRF and Rs 6,600 from the state budget. “This relief will be paid from June 20, 2017,” reads the order.
“The compensation should cover the farmer’s profit as well because in a majority of the cases, it is the fault of the power corporation,” they said.
A PSPCL official said all DCs and the corporation’s field staff had been informed about the enhanced compensation, adding that it was for the government to frame the policy and fix the relief to be paid in case of farm fires.