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Satellite-based data to improve crop insurance for farmers

Devendra Fadnavis

Mumbai: In view of the rising incidence of farmers’ suicides and delay in settlement of insurance schemes, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said a pilot project of satellite-based survey at field-level to improve crop insurance schemes will cover 500 villages.

“The government is in the process of identifying the villages where satellite-based survey would be conducted and data would be collected at the village level on individual crop fields. It will be the first of its kind in the country,” Fadnavis told reporters after chairing a state-level kharif crop preparation and planning review meeting.

The government has decided to advance the date of crop loan rescheduling from June 30 to June 15, from a period of five years to three years, Fadnavis said.

“In the first year, there will be no levy of interest while later it would be six per cent. Similarly, in areas where district co-operative banks are defunct, nationalised banks have been asked to provide loans to the farmers. There will be taluka level monitoring of the same,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that IMD had predicted 93 per cent rainfall of Long Period Average (LPA) while a private weather forecaster Skymet has forecast 103 per cent rainfall.

“We have planned kharif sowing accordingly. Nearly 10 lakh farmers will be given details of the IMD forecast and advisory regularly. Our endeavour will be to increase the registration of farmers from 10 lakh to 50 lakh for SMS updates,” he said adding that last year the state had received 70 per cent rainfall.

There are 54 automated weather stations in the state which will be increased to 2,059 weather and rain-forecasting stations. At gram panchayat level, kiosks and LEDs would be set up to give weather details and advisories regarding their crops on regular basis.

Maharashtra approves proposal to up contingency fund by Rs 962 crore

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government approved a proposal today to increase the limit of contingency fund by Rs 962 crore ‘on a temporary basis’ from the current from Rs 150 crore to enable it to extend adequate financial relief to farmers.

Of this amount, Rs 630 crore will be for disbursing aid to farmers under the crop insurance scheme, and Rs 281 crore will be to assist farmers affected by unseasonal rains in February and March this year, a state government official told PTI.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis here, the official said.

Though the fund limit has been set at Rs 150 crore, there are instances when it is raised in view of unforseen events like natural disasters, the official said.

Last year, the then Congress-led government in the state had raised the contingency fund limit to provide relief to farmers suffering crop losses due to hailstorm, to Rs 2,500 crore.

Property tax relief for 17 lakh families in Mumbai

Mumbai: In a major relief to 17 lakh families settled in Mumbai, the Maharashtra Government today decided not to increase property tax for next five years for those who own or occupy less than 500 sq/ft property.

The decision was taken in the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The implementation would be with effect from April 1, 2015.

Fadnavis told reporters that in 2010 when the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) shifted from rateable tax to capital based tax structure, houses below 500 sq.ft were exempted from increase in property tax for five years.

“BMC will soon increase property tax by 40 per cent. The government has decided to continue with the exemption for less than 500 sq.ft tenements,” he said.

An ordinance will be promulgated for the same, the Chief Minister said.

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