Mumbai: Farmers in the state, who are still reeling under the impact of a hail storm and unseasonal rains in December, were dealt another blow due to the unseasonal rains over the last few days and the state government has now promised quick damage assessment and aid disbursal.

“We are in the process of disbursing aid to farmers affected by drought and recent hailstorms. Around 90 lakh farmers will benefit from it. So far, we have already disbursed aid to 50 lakh farmers,” an official said.

The official added that the prices of vegetables are likely to go up as a result of the damage.

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Officials said that the unseasonal rains over the last two-three days in Maharashtra have damaged wheat, jowar and chickpea crop, mango orchards, vineyards and pomegranate fields in Marathwada, Vidarbha, Khandesh, Western Maharashtra and Konkan region.

“I have directed all divisional commissioners and collectors to conduct spot inspection of individual farmers impacted by unseasonal rains,” chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said after reviewing the situation on Monday.

He said that Yavatmal, infamous for farmer suicides in the cotton belt of Vidarbha, was the worst-affected district.

“Also, the crops in Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondiya in Vidarbha region have been affected by it. In some cases, harvested crops and seeds were also destroyed,” he added.

As per the preliminary assessment by government officials, while a total area of 17,000 hectares has been damaged due to rains, it has caused a total loss of around Rs 1,000 crore. It is an estimate and the final figures are not yet available, said the official adding that three persons died after being hit by lightning on Sunday.

In December, crops like grapes, mango, and banana cultivated over 60,000 hectares of land were damaged due to rains and hailstorms. Subsequently, the Maharashtra government asked the Centre for Rs 7,000 crore as relief for farmers. So far, the centre has released only Rs 500 crore. A year ago as well farmers across the state were also affected by hailstorms.

Raju Shetty, president of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtna and an ally of BJP, said despite making big promises to farmers during election campaigns, they have not been given anything so far.

“The farmers were promised of minimum support price for all farm produce but the issue has been ignored so far by the BJP. Even, the union budget has ignored the farmers completely,” Shetty, an MP from Hatkanangale in Western Maharashtra, said.

The Congress and NCP have demanded that the state government should provide the comprehensive package to the affected farmers.

“It is unfortunate that despite seeking the drought relief from Centre, it is not ready to help farmers. Rather than waiting for the help from Modi, government, the state should provide relief to farmers from its coffers,” said Sachin Sawant, congress spokesperson.

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Brace for higher vegetable prices in Maharashtra as unseasonal rains damage crops