Kejriwal promised prompt relief to farmers who lost crops last year. They are still waiting

Last October, after heavy unseasonal rainfall damaged kharif crops in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal promised monetary relief of upto Rs 20,000 per acre to the affected farmers. “We will make sure that the money is disbursed within one and a half months or so,” the .

Many farmers are still waiting for the money, seven months on.

In January, while handing out cheques to some of the farmers, Kejriwal said that his government had set aside Rs 55.35 crore to pay 45,000 farmers thus far. While the farmers assessed to have suffered over 70% crop damage would get the full amount, the rest would get Rs 14,000 per acre.

The assessment of damage and identification of farmers eligible for compensation was done by patwaris and tehsildars in the respective subdivision. Delhi has 23 , 10 of which contain most of the state’s 30,000 hectares of cultivable farmland in the north and northwest. Except Alipur and Narela, revenue officials in these subdivisions didn’t respond to questions about whether the patwaris consulted the farmers before assessing damage, how many farmers were identified for relief and if they were paid. Calls and messages to revenue minister Kailash Gahlot did not elicit a response either.

In Narela, tehsildar Dinesh Kumar said the assessment lasted until early November. In Alipur, an official at the SDM office said the damage was assessed between September 1 and October 15, and compensation was paid “as per their assessment”. The assessors in each subdivision prepared lists of eligible farmers after surveying the fields of all those who had applied for compensation.

“There’s no clarity on what basis the revenue department has approved or rejected applications,” said Paras Tyagi from the NGO Centre for Youth Culture Law and Environment, which is helping the affected farmers get relief. “I have filed an RTI to find out when the assessment was done and how many farmers are eligible for compensation. The RTI and the appeal are travelling from one department to another. They are being transferred to SDM offices in Hauz Khas and Dwarka. Does the government not know there are no farmlands in those places?”

In Alipur subdivision, 1,207 farmers have received compensation so far, said an official in the subdivisional magistrate’s office who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak with the press.

In Narela, 4,178 farmers will receive a total Rs 6.43 crore, according to a list prepared by the SDM’s office. “Sanctions of 3,702 farmers have been sent to the accounts branch while sanctions of 476 farmers are under approval and are yet to be submitted to the account branch,” said the tehsildar, Dinesh Kumar.

But many farmers Newslaundry spoke with in Alipur and Narela and in the other affected subdivisions are frustrated with how the Kejriwal government has handled the whole compensation exercise. In contrast, they recalled how the same administration had provided relief within two months to farmers whose crops suffered damage from unseasonal rainfall in 2015.

Gyanender Singh, a farmer in Nangal Thakran, Narela, said he had spent Rs 90,000 to cultivate paddy on his five-acre field and would have earned about Rs 2 lakh “had the rains not completely ravaged the crop in October”. He applied for compensation and visited the SDM’s office thrice to follow up, but has not received the money yet. “I don’t know if they surveyed the field without consulting me,” he added. “I wasn’t contacted by any patwari.”

To worsen the blow, his rabi crop was damaged by rainfall as well. He had grown wheat on 2.5 acres, spending Rs 45,000 and expecting Rs 2 lakh in return. “Every year, after saving wheat for the house, I get Rs 2.5 lakh,” he said. “This time I got less than Rs 40,000.”

Now he’s left with a Rs 2 lakh loan on his Kisan Credit Card and no means to repay it. “Besides the principal amount, I have to pay 7% annual interest,” he said. “It is giving me sleepless nights.”

There are 227 names from Nangal Thakran village on the list of 4,178 people due to receive compensation in Narela. But the villagers complain that nearly 1,000 of them lost over 70% of their kharif crop.


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