November 2018 News

Snow Fury: Govt Steps In To Help Affected Orchardists

9 November 2018
Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Day after Greater Kashmir reported that the government was contemplating to declare last week's snowfall in Kashmir as a natural calamity to pave way for enhanced relief to the affected orchardists, the state executive committee of the state disaster response fund headed by chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam Friday formally approved the decision. An official spokesman said that given the extent of damage to the agriculture and horticulture crops and produce as well as the farm infrastructure due to 'untimely, unexpected and intense' snowfall on November 3 and 4 in Kashmir division, the SEC approved notifying the snowfall as a 'state-specific special natural calamity' to provide additional relief and assistance to the affected farmers from the SDRF. The SEC said the November 3 and 4 snowfall will be considered a natural calamity within the SDRF guidelines too. The early snowfall has not only affected the returns this year but is also likely to affect the returns from the horticulture crops for the next two to three years, the spokesman said. 'The existing scale of relief for damaged orchards being quite inadequate, it was considered essential to enhance the scale of relief given as per the existing SDRF norms for the perennial crops,' he said. The SEC accordingly decided to categorise apple as a perennial crop given the fact that it takes many years for fruition. 'In parallel, the SEC approved enhancement of the quantum of relief from Rs 18000-hectare to Rs 36000-hectare for damage to perennial crops like apple. The payment of compensation at enhanced rates will not exceed Rs 4000 per affected farmer(s) having land less than one hectare and shall cover sown-planted areas only,' the spokesman said. The chief secretary also directed that Rs 10 crore should be kept at the disposal of deputy commissioners as an immediate measure for disbursement of cash relief among the 'bonafide affectees' as per the SDRF norms. In another 'important' decision aimed at strengthening the district administrations' response mechanism to winter vagaries including snowfall and inclement weather, the SEC approved allocation of Rs 28 crore for procurement of various machines by the PW(R&B) department. These include (i) Rs 16.50 crore for procurement of three sophisticated snow cutter machines @ Rs 5.50 core each (ii) Rs six crore for procurement of 15 snow plough machines @ Rs 40 lakh each for distribution to various snowfall-prone districts including 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, Doda-Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban-Banihal and Leh and Kargil and (iii) Rs 5.50 crore for procurement of 22 bulldozers @ Rs 25 lakh each for all districts of the State. Principal secretary, Home, R K Goyal; principal secretary, Finance, Navin K Choudhary; commissioner secretary, Revenue, Shahid Anayatullah, commissioner secretary, PWD (R&B), Khurshid Ahmad Shah and other senior officers were present in the meeting. Divisional commissioner, Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan and IGP Kashmir S P Pani participated through video conferencing.