Government seeks report from hailstorm-hit states

New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The central government on Monday sought reports from states on crops damaged due to heavy rains and hailstorm in parts of northern India, hours after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi demanded compensation for the affected farmers.

“I have personally spoken to the agriculture ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to assess the crop damage,” union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told the Lok Sabha.

Singh said the affected states have said it will take three to four days to make an assessment.

“Central teams will visit the affected areas after receiving the reports from the states and assistance will be provided on the basis of their reports,” he said.

The minister said the government will extend assistance to the union territories also in case of disaster.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the setting up of a Disaster Relief Fund to extend assistance to union territories like Delhi,” he said.

Singh said there was no provision in the past to grant funds to the union territories under the National Disaster Relief Fund.

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi raised the issue in the Lok Sabha and asked the government to assess the crop damage due to hailstorm and provide adequate compensation to the affected farmers.

“After the hailstorm and heavy rains, farmers of northern India are in distress. The government must act to give relief to farmers affected (by) crop damage,” he said in the Lok Sabha.

He demanded a statement from the agriculture minister. Responding, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said it was a serious matter and the government would act immediately.

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