Relax poll code to save Vidarbha farmers, says NGO

A leading NGO Tuesday urged the Election Commission (EC) to relax the model code of conduct in Vidarbha region, to enable the state government disburse aid to farmers affected by hailstorm.

The Maharashtra government has announced a compensation package of Rs.4,000 crore for the farmers, whose crops were ravaged by heavy rain and hailstorm between February and March this year.

The aid disbursal has been stuck amid the Lok Sabha elections in the state. At least six farmers committed suicide recently in the state, pushing the toll to 368 in 2014, said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishore Tiwari.

"The EC has already relaxed the code of conduct in Haryana and Delhi. It should apply the same parameters in Vidarbha region, where the election was held April 10, to enable the state government provide aid to the farmers in crisis," Tiwari told IANS.

The code of conduct is still in force in Maharashtra, where the first phase of election in 10 constituencies was completed. Another 19 constituencies will go to polls April 17 and the voting in the remaining 19 constituencies is scheduled for April 24.

Tiwari said three farmers ended their lives in Yavatmal, two in Buldhana and one in Wardha districts in the past three days, raising the region's toll to 116.

VJAS activists called on the families of 80 such farmers and discovered that they did not receive any aid so far while bankers and moneylenders continued to harass them for recovery of loans.

"The situation is so pathetic that in view of the EC code, district and village officials have not even called on the victims' families to start the process for disbursing aid. They keep telling the anxious farmers to wait till May 16, when the election process will be completed," Tiwari said.

Unseasonal heavy rain and hailstorm hit 28 of the state's 35 districts, destroying standing and cash crops on nearly two million hectares, including Rabi wheat, jowar, sugarcane, fruits and cotton.

Write your comment now