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Lok Sabha polls 2014: Code of conduct leaves weather-beaten farmers in the lurch

Government won’t be able to dole out hefty relief packages as it may result in violation of the code; CM in talks with Election Commission to slacken the norms

It is a double whammy for the weather-beaten farmers in the state. Thanks to the ongoing code of conduct implemented by the Election Commission before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the state government will not be able to dole out hefty relief packages to lessen the monetary damage borne by the farmers due to the havoc created by Mother Nature. 


Calm after the storm: Ground covered in hailstones after the storm in Baramati yesterday. Pic/Mohan Patil

In the last eight days, the unseasonal showers and hailstorms across 28 districts in the state have claimed 22 lives and left 101 injured. Crops worth crores of rupees, on 8.25 lakh hectare cultivable land, were destroyed. Also perished were 2,744 cattle animals and 5,600 poultry birds. As per data compiled from the weatherworn districts, 10,941 houses were damaged in the unseasonal mayhem.

Much more needed
The biggest worry before the Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government is doling out massive relief packages, without flouting the election code of conduct, said government sources. As per rules, the government machinery can issue monetary relief to the farmers by abiding with the standing orders issued in the past. However, the damage caused by hailstorms is larger than expected and the cash relief needs to be increased to compensate the victims
adequately.

Sources claimed the government has already approached the EC, requesting permission to implement relief measures on a larger scale.

Plans cancelled
Meanwhile, the Congress-NCP combine had to call off their rallies in Beed. Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and CM Prithviraj Chavan were supposed to be part of the event. Pawar changed his schedule and took stock of the affected areas from Osmanabad to Beed districts.

He even updated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the phone and requested for maximum aid from the centre. CM Chavan is supposed to visit the affected areas in Osmanabad and Latur districts today.

Chavan, who was at Vidhan Bhavan yesterday, discussed the situation with his party colleagues and ministers Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Nitin Raut and Madhukarrao Chavan, MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre and others. Later, he spoke to EC officials about touring affected areas in Osmanabad and Latur.

Desperate for money
One of the biggest worries for the debt-ridden state is raising funds, and it might resort to taking an advance from the contingency fund. The government is also hoping to get a substantial amount from the centre’s calamity relief funds. Chavan said he demanded maximum amounts from the centre and was holding talks with the EC office simultaneously to ease its norms for the time being.

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