Despite Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s crop damage compensation announcement, tenant farmers Badha Venkatramana (45) and Haridas Ramanayya (45) from the Adilabad district are worried.
Following last week’s relief announcement, they and other farmers are seeking compensation for the crop damage over the past three years — 2020, 2021, and 2022 — owing to floods, heavy rainstorms, submergence due to the Kaleshwaram backwaters, hailstorms, and pest attacks.
On Thursday, 23 March, KCR announced ₹10,000-per-acre compensation to farmers whose crops were damaged by the recent hailstorms in the state.
A day later, Telangana-based farmers’ rights organisation Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV) brought together farmers and tenant farmers from four districts to Hyderabad.
The RSV noted that Telangana was the only state in the country that did not implement a crop insurance scheme since 2020.
Tenant farmers describe woes
A native of Kupti village in Neradigonda mandal, grim-faced Venkatramana told South First, “I cultivated 5 acres of leased land and 5 acres of own land and completely lost my cotton and soybean crops due to heavy rains and flooding. More than 50 farmers in our village suffered severe crop damage during the heavy rains and floods of July 2022.”
Kurva Manjula from Thondapalli village, Parigi mandal, Vikarabad and Durga Reddy from Dattaipalli village, M Turkapally mandal, Yadadri, face similar issues.
“My husband was a tenant farmer and died by suicide due to loans in 2021. We used to lease 5.5 acres of land and cultivate, but we suffered severe crop losses in 2020 and 2021 due to heavy rains and flooding. Due to this, we could not repay the high debt of ₹7 lakh,” Manjula told South First.
She was denied any benefits from Rythu Bima — a life insurance scheme for the family of a deceased farmer — apparently because she was a tenant farmer.
“Nor did we get any ex gratia from the government. I am struggling with three young children and am still a tenant cultivator, trying to repay the debts. This year was also not profitable,” Manjula added.
All these farmers want the government to compensate them for their losses in the previous years too.
Also Read: KCR visits hailstorm affected Khammam; declares compensation
‘Should not be a one-time announcement’
While welcoming the move, the RSV activists noted that the relief amount should not be a one-time exercise.
“Make a policy decision on crop damage compensation of ₹10,000 per acre, and on the identification of tenant farmers as per the 2011 Act,” the RSV demanded.
As per the RSV activists, farmers suffer crop damage across lakhs of acres every season due to natural calamities or pest attacks.
“The Telangana government should announce a policy decision to give a support of ₹10,000 per acre to all affected farmers and to do the enumeration of affected farmers immediately after the calamity in a routine manner — not related to political developments,” the RSV said.
Pointing out that the chief minister recognising the tenant farmers was a historic moment, Kirankumar Vissa of the RSV told South First, “Definitely it’s a political announcement now that the election has come. What we need are more such repeated announcements.”
Also Read: Debts mount as welfare schemes elude Telangana’s tenant farmers
‘Govt told HC our crops recovered’
As per the RSV, several writ petitions were filed by tenant farmers in 2020 and 2021 in the Telangana High Court for the disbursement of relief amounts from farmers.
Badha Venkatramana and Haridas Ramanayya from Adilabad, along with other farmers in the district, had filed a writ petition in 2022 in the high court
“After a survey of land by the government officials, they claimed in the high court that our crops recovered magically within a week, whereas our lands remained water-logged for almost 2 months due to flooding,” Venkatramana said.
Meanwhile, the RSV filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in October 2020 in the high court regarding crop damage due to heavy rains and floods.
“Despite the historic judgement in September 2021, the government has not distributed relief and instead appealed in the Supreme Court. There was severe crop damage in 15 lakh acres, as per the Government of Telangana’s final assessment report sent to the Centre requesting relief support of ₹552 crores. The Disaster Management Authority at the Centre gave approval for ₹188 crores from NDRF/SDRF in February 2021, but even these relief funds have so far not been disbursed,” the RSV said.
It added that Telangana government has not been providing disaster relief support by input subsidy as required by 2005 National Disaster Management Act.