Chandigarh: The Centre on Friday decided to reschedule loans of farmers of Punjab and Haryana besides providing them financial assistance to deal with losses due to deficient rain.
     
"I have already instructed NABARD to prepare a rescheduling programme on crop loan for those farmers who have taken money in states that were affected because of insufficient rain and that include Punjab and Haryana", Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters.
     
He noted that monsoon in Punjab and Haryana is deficient by 68 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
     
Pawar, who was flanked by Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, also assured financial support to the two state governments to meet expenditure due to higher power requirements for the farm sector.
     
"We have to take decision (regarding support to farmers and Punjab and Haryana governments).. we just have to take input from Rajasthan… Our desire is not delay the decision beyond 7 days," Pawar said after visiting the affected areas of the two states.
     
Apart from this, the Centre also decided to announce more funds for drinking water, under NREGA scheme and Integrated Watershed Scheme for both states.
      
Meanwhile, Punjab and Haryana governments on Friday demanded a central package of Rs 5,112 crore and Rs 4,050 crore respectively to deal with the drought like situation in the two states.
     
Pawar said despite huge deficiency of rain in the both states, the sowing of kharif crops has not suffered much due to laudable work of farmers and efforts of the two state governments.

Pawar said the total sowing in Punjab up to August 8 has reached 35.2 lakh hectares as against the average of 34.80 lakh hectares. "Punjab has taken more efforts even to go beyond normal level," he added.
    
However, he said situation in Haryana is worst as there has been a shortfall of area under crops in the state due to deficient rain.
    
"...Worst position is in Haryana where rain has been deficient by 71 percent. In Haryana, late monsoon affected sowing. Till August 3, in Haryana there is a shortfall of 3.1 lakh hectares (in crop sowing)," he said.
    
"..Farmers (in Punjab, Haryana) purchased diesel from their own pocket to save crop. Our desire is to do whatever to support the farmers...(money) should go directly to farmers' accounts," Pawar said.
    
He said a large percentage of farmers in both states have Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) and the money could be deposited directly into their accounts.
    
"Fortunately, over 85 pc farmers have KCC and we tried to collect details and their numbers and the money could be directly (credited) to farmers accounts," the minister said.
    
He said both governments have purchased power from open market "just to save crop".
    
He said Government of India has enhanced scheme for food development programme.
    
"Punjab, Haryana government has also brought to our notice because of delayed monsoon, there is a impact on fodder crop and both states are major suppliers of milk and if we neglect the health of cattle then it will ultimately impact the milk supply," he said.
    
"That is why we have decided to provide financial support to both the states, we will discuss it and we will see their proposals and we will give some financial support under Fodder development scheme," he said.

Pawar further said Punjab and Haryana could get more financial relief from the Centre if they announce drought in the states.
    
"...Announcement of drought is the power of the state governments. The moment the states announce drought...there are many (Centre's) financial support schemes to help the states," he said.
    
Stating that it is too early to say about the financial implication of drought-like conditions, Pawar said there is not going to be any impact on production in Punjab and Haryana, though the expenditure would go up to nurture the crops.
    
"There is not going to be any impact on crop in Punjab and Haryana. (However) the cost of cultivation will be more for farmers," he said.
    
Asked about the over financial impact of drought in the country, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said the actual financial impact of drought or drought-like conditions could be known by November.
    
"It is too early to say about the financial impact of drought. We have adequate stocks and adequate financial resources. We will make the assessment of financial impact of drought only in November," said Ramesh.
    
Announcing the additional financial support to Punjab and Haryana, Ramesh said Centre will provide more funds for drinking water, under NREGA scheme and Integrated Watershed Scheme.
    
Giving details, he said that Haryana government would be given Rs 115 crore for drinking water in the wake of poor rain in the state.
    
"Haryana has made a demand for Rs 50 crore for drinking water supply and after discussion (with Haryana officials) we have decided to release Rs 115 crore next week," Ramesh said.
    
He further said a sum of Rs 100 crore would be given to Haryana under NREGA scheme against the state's additional demand of Rs 91 crore.
    
"Haryana has made additional demand of Rs 91 crore under NREGA while a sum of Rs 435 crore has been earmarked for 2012-13. I promised (Haryana) officials that we will give Rs 100 crore to them which will take the total budget to Rs 535 crore," he said.
    
Under Integrated Watershed programme, a sum of Rs 68 crore has been earmarked with 50,000 hectares of land for 2012-13. "When proposals will come in next three-four weeks from Haryana and we will approve them," he said.

For Punjab, Ramesh said the state government has demanded Rs 26 crore for drinking water supply in the wake of drought like conditions. "We have told Punjab government that by next week, a sum of Rs 40 crore would be given to the state," he said.
    
"If 60 percent of the sum is spent by November-end and if demand again comes from the state, we will be in a position to approve the same," he said.
    
Under NREGA scheme, Ramesh said his ministry has added 30 new jobs related to agriculture which will be qualified for benefit under NREGA scheme and it will benefit the state.
    
He said a sum of Rs 211 crore has been estimated to be spent on NREGA in Punjab for current fiscal. "(However) there has not been any demand from the state in this regard," he said.
    
He further said if Punjab feels that the sum under NREGA scheme was insufficient then it can seek more funds during next two months.
    
Under Integrated Watershed scheme, he said that a sum of Rs 52 crore has been proposed for Punjab.     

Pawar added that there is a need to shift paddy from Punjab and Haryana to other states and the Centre is laying emphasis on promoting the paddy crop in north-eastern states.
    
Punjab and Haryana should promote horticulture, vegetable, floriculture, pulses, oilseeds, he said.

(Agencies)

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