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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

17 dead in Maharashtra hailstorms 800Cr Worth Crops Damaged In Entire State

Kolhapur/Aurangabad/ Nashik: Seventeen persons have died and standing crops worth over Rs 800 crores destroyed following unseasonal rain and severe hailstorms in Maharashtra over the past two weeks. The loss has been acute in the state’s Marathwada region, where crops worth close to Rs 600 crore have been damaged, officials have said. 

    Two persons were killed and one injured when the wall of a house collapsed on a bakery in a hailstorm in Paithan taluka, 50km from here, early Tuesday morning, taking the toll to 17. 
    The spell of unseasonal rain and hailstorm that continues even after two weeks has caused the maximum damage to ready-to-harvest grape, wheat and pomegranate crops in the rain-hit areas of the state. 
    In Sangli district, the worst-affected in Western Maharashtra, grape plantations spread over an estimated 5,600 acres have been ruin
ed in the rains. Similarly in Nashik, grape crops on around 500 hectares have been damaged. Wheat crops in both Nashik and Marathwada regions have been damaged in the rain. Onion crops too have been damaged in Nashik, which might trigger a hike in prices again. 
    Other horticulture crops damaged in the rain in these parts include pomegranate, watermelon and banana. Agricultural crops including wheat, jowar and gram too have been damaged. 
    Officials peg the total rain-lashed farmland in Kolhapur district at 8,000 hectares, where there is no possibility of any yield now. Sangli district collector Deependrasinh Kushwah said farmers make an estimated Rs 10 lakh from each hectare of grape cultivation, which puts the total loss at 
around Rs 800 crore. 
    In Marathwada region, farmers who were preparing to harvest their wheat crops are now counting losses. Jowar and gram crops too have been washed away in the rain in this region. The Aurangabad agriculture department has estimated crop losses to the tune of Rs 600 crore in Marathwada. Joint director of the agriculture department (Aurangabad division) Janardhan Jadhav said crops and fruits on 5.91 lakh hectares of land have been affected between February 22 and March 8. With an estimated average loss of Rs 10,000 per hectare, the total damage is estimated at about Rs 591.25 crore. 
    People in the region panicked as winds at 100-150 km blew away asbestos sheets covering homes. The sudden heavy rainfall and 
hailstorm left many exposed. More than the loss of crops, loss of lives has hit people hard, Jadhav said. 
    Officials in Nashik said the crops that have been affected were being cultivated for the Rabi (summer) season and were in the flowering stage. The harvest season was expected to start by month-end. Officials said the state government grants Rs 20,000 per hectare for areas that have suffered more than 50% damage of crops. 
    Officials said the devastation caused due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm was worse than drought. The process of conducting panchanama has already been initiated. They said that if enough labour had been made available, about 25% loss could have been saved as many of the crops had reached harvesting stage.


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