High Court blasts administration for delaying aid to distressed ryots

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Mar 2017 10:45:57

Legal Correspondent,

In backdrop of increasing number of suicides by farmers, High Court deplores apathy of official machinery to reach aid in time to affected farmers

Expressing gross dissatisfaction over the State Government machinery to distribute cash amount released by it to the adversely affected farmers of the drought-prone areas in Vidarbha, a division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indira Jain has endorsed a fresh deadline for the Government to finish this work by March 31 and report compliance back to the Court on April 6, 2017.

The Court passed fresh order after perusing the affidavits filed by Jagdishprasad Ramnath Gupta, the Divisional Commissioner, Amravati and Arun Bhagwan Unhale, the In charge Divisional Commissioner, Nagpur, during the hearing of the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Devanand Narsing Pawar, an agriculturist from Yavatmal. The petitioner has sought directions by the Court to the State Government to declare the list of drought-prone villages as per the information submitted by the Divisional Commissioner, Amravati, after re-assessment in November, 2015 with further directions to the State Government to grant all the benefits and facilities to all such affected villages within stipulated period .

Making efforts, though not succeeding to hide their failures to disburse cash help in time, despite increasing number of suicides by farmers in Vidarbha with a fig-leaf by blaming the bankers for not making available required data of affected farmers and staff remaining busy with various elections, these Divisional Commissioners could not satisfy the Court. They have assured that they would be completing disbursement of cash help by March 31 next.
The Court has noted after perusing the chart submitted by Divisional Commissioner, Nagpur, on March 9 regarding disbursement, that Rs 82.65 crore were made available and out of that only Rs 37.12 crore have been distributed till March 8.

The Court had directed the Divisional Commissioner to state reasons for this failure on oath.
After March 8 and till date, it is claim of the Divisional Commissioner that 75 per cent of the released amount has reached the farmers. The remaining amount is being distributed and the work is near completion.

In the affidavit by the Divisional Commissioner, Nagpur, it has been stated that till January 18 last, Rs 526.20 crore were already released and is under disbursement. Out of this amount Rs 443.55 crore have been allotted for Amravati division farmers growing cotton and soyabean. It has been stated in the affidavit exposing the Government to charge of being ridiculous, that though Rs 109.36 crore were earmarked for Amravati district, even not a single farmer was found eligible there for this aid.

During last hearing the High Court had rapped the authorities for sleeping over the matter and not disbursing help even upto March - fag end of the financial year. “On one hand, the farmers in the region are committing suicide and on the other hand, the State is acting in lethargic manner in providing assistance to the farmers as a compensation for the losses suffered by them,” the High Court had lamented.

In this PIL few months ago, the High Court had deplored the “callous, casual and indifferent” approach of Mantralaya officers towards distressed farmers facing nature’s fury while lashing out at them for refusing to come out of their deep slumber to provide relief to poor farmers and their dependents. It was only after a rap from the High Court last year, the State Government had to immediately include 6,147 villages of four districts-Amravati (1,967), Akola (997), Yavatmal (970), Washim (793) in the list of drought affected villages based on their anewari. 1,420 villages of Buldana districts in the list from original figure of zero.

Adv Anil Kilor appeared for the petitioner. Addl. GP Deepak Thakre represented the State.