The Odisha governemnt today released Rs 137.51 crore for disbursement as agriculture input subsidy to pest affected farmers and asked the district collectors to suggest peasants to store their paddy safely in view of the Met office's forecast of rainfall. "We have suggested the farmers to cut paddy crop in next four days and store them in a safe place," revenue and disaster management minister Maheswar Mohanty told reporters here. In a letter to the collectors of all the 30 districts, special relief commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said farmers should stack their harvested paddy under suitable cover in order to avoid any loss or damage duie to rains. "Where paddy crops are ready for hervest, they (farmers) should take steps to hervest the same and store safely to avoid damage due to rains," the SRC told the district collectors adding, necessary measures be taken to protect the paddy in mandies, if any, against rain. The SRC said that rain is likely to commence from November 13 due to low pressure in the Bay of Bengal and it may cause light to moderate rain at a few places with heavy showers at one or two places over the districts of South Odisha on November 14. Further, the letter mentioned that moderate rain is likely to occur at many places with heavy fall at one or two places in the districts of Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Angul, Nayagarh, Kandhamal and Boudh between November 15 and 18 due to movement of the low pressure system close to Odisha coast. Meanwhile, Sethi said the state govenrment has released Rs 137.51 crore for the purpose of input subsidy while notifying 1,28,318.945 hectares of cropped areas as pest affected. As many as 24 out of 30 districts have reported crop damage due to pest attack and the remaining six districts -- Balasore, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kandhamal, Kendrapara and Malkangiri have submitted nil report, said an official release issued by the SRC. It said that according to the reported data available from district collectors, there is crop loss of 33 per cent and more in 1,28,319 hectares of cropped area in 8,092 villages under 150 blocks and 148 wards under 35 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) of 24 districts. The amount required for agriculture input subsidy at the rate of Rs 6,800 per hectare for rain-fed areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare for areas under assured irrigation comes to Rs 137.52 crore, Sethi said. Since pest attack has been classified as one of the 12 approved natural disasters under the SDRF/NDRF guidelines, farmers who have sustained crop loss of 33 per cent and above are eligible for agriculture input subsidy, he said. He said Rs 13,751.92 lakh has been sanctioned out of SDRF in favour of concerned collectors for disbursement of agriculture input subsidy to the affected farmers.
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