At least 26 people have died and 120 have been injured due to the untimely rainfall and hailstorm in Maharashtra. According to senior government officials, the hailstorm has damaged almost 10 lakh hectares of cultivated land across the state in the last two weeks. The ruined standing crops include mango, cotton, wheat, grapes and banana.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, wherein Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, finance minister P Chidambaram and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde will be members.
"The committee will tour the affected areas and submit its findings and suggestions. After that, the Centre will announce the relief package and the decision to waive off farmers' loans," said a senior government official.
As per the state standing committee ordinance, in calamity, the state government can give Rs4,500 per hectare to farmers having non-irrigated land, Rs9,000 to those having irrigated land and Rs12,000 to those having orchid land. However, this time, the demand for the relief package sum has been raised. Political parties and farmers are demanding Rs20,000-Rs25,000 per hectare as compensation.
Sources said the election commission has granted permission to convene a cabinet meeting to tackle the crisis. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will hold the meeting in the next two days to assess the total damage and work out the relief package. Chavan is also on a tour of the affected areas in Marathwada, Khandesh and Vidarbha.