By BS Reporter
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday announced the restructuring of crop loans for farmers in flood-hit areas.
He directed the cooperative department to defer the recovery of crop loans from such farmers and immediately convert short-term loans to long-term ones. Badal is also known to have written to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, suggesting he issue similar directions to all public sector banks.
The deputy chief minister is also believed to have spoken to Home Minister P Chidambaram, requesting him to amend relief guidelines for calamity-hit villages and providing appropriate compensation to farmers whose tubewell motors were damaged in the floods.
Reviewing the flood situation in the state with ministers and secretaries of all departments concerned, Badal directed Chief Secretary S C Agarwal to ensure all farmers and affected people were compensated within a week for damage to their crop.
Releasing Rs 22 crore for municipal works in the flooded areas, including cleaning of drains, the deputy chief minister also released another Rs 9 crore to irrigation authorities for plugging breaches in rivers and canals.
The irrigation department has also been asked to identify vulnerable and weak points in bunds in the rest of the state, to avoid recurrence.
Badal said focus of the state government machinery was to provide expeditious relief to the flood hit farmers and state government should take this situation as a challenge.
About 1,050 villages across Rupnagar, Patiala, Sangrur, SAS Nagar, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Moga and Mansa have been marooned in the state, with the floods affecting 400,000 people and damaging harvest over an area of 271,784 acres, besides damaging 2,868 km roads.
Wide-spread rains were reported across Patiala, Gurdaspur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepur, Ludhiana and Amritsar , with water in the Ghaggar and Bhakra Main Line already flowing above danger levels(RD 460).
Water level in Bhakra was recorded at 1,556.40 feet, 19.80 feet above last year levels, whereas water inflow was recorded at 39,148 cusecs against 38,577 cusecs last year.