JVP calls for compensation for drought-stricken farmers
The situation being exaggerated for cheap political gain – govt.July 19, 2012, 11:17 pm
By Saman Indrajith
The JVP yesterday called upon the government to compensate the farmers who had lost their crop due to the prevailing drought and to write off loans they had drawn for cultivation in the Yala season.
JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, making a special statement in Parliament, said that thousands of farmers in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kurunegala Districts had been affected by the protracted drought. Around 31,500 hectares of paddy, cultivated under the Kalawewa project in Anuradhapura, 2,500 hectares of paddy and 500 hectares of other crops under the Giritale Project in Polonnaruwa and 16,000 hectares cultivated by Hakwatuna and Bathalagoda projects in Kurunegala had been destroyed, he said.
Dissanayake said: "Around Rs. 50,000 was spent by a farmer family to cultivate an acre of paddy. When their crops were destroyed by drought, each farmer must have spent at least Rs. 40,000 per acre. They have raised funds to meet the cost through bank loans. If the government does not come to their assistance at this hour of their need, their future would be very bleak. Apart from the crop loss in the on-going Yala season, they are faced another problem—how to find money for next Maha season. We propose that the government pay them compensation to the tune of Rs. 75,000 each per acre of cultivation destroyed by the drought."
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena responding said the figures given by JVP MP were erroneous. It was exaggerating the situation to gain some political mileage, he said.
He said Rs. 3,665 millions had been allocated for granting relief to the drought-stricken farmers. The President had also instructed that the recovery of agricultural loans given to the farmers be deferred. Rs. 6,000 would be provided to each family and funds would be provided to excavate agro wells at Rs. 1,000 per well. Among other relief measures proposed was to supply seed paddy free of charge to the affected farmers for the next season, the Minister said.
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