Farm loan waiver, new houses, rent for flood victims: CM Fadnavis

Mumbai: Loan waiver for farmers, new houses for those who lost their dwellings built under the PM Awas Yojana in deluge and free foodgrains are among the slew of relief measures announced by the Maharashtra government on Monday for the people affected by the recent floods.

Heavy rains and floods battered several areas of western Maharashtra and the Konkan region earlier this month, with Kolhapur and Sangli districts bearing the maximum brunt.

At a press conference in Mumbai, CM Devendra Fadnavis said a committee will ascertain causes for the unprecedented floods and suggest measures to avoid their recurrence. “The farmers who have lost crops on up to one hectare will get complete loan waiver,” he said.

The government has also decided to pay annual rent of Rs24,000 (rural) and Rs 36,000 (urban localities) in the flood-hit areas, where people have been forced to live in rented accommodation, the chief minister said.

The rent will be paid to the flood victims till their houses are rebuilt, he said. A committee is being set up under the chairmanship of a retired state government officer, Nandkumar Wadnere, to study the reasons for the deluge and suggest steps to avoid its recurrence in the future, Fadnavis said.

Wadnere is a retired principal secretary of the water resources department. “The state government will also pursue (with the Centre) its demand of offering relaxation in terms of filing Income Tax and GST returns in the flood-affected areas. We will take up this matter with the Centre,” Fadnavis said.

He was speaking to reporters at his residence in south Mumbai after holding a meeting with senior bureaucrats.

The beneficiaries of Prime Minister Awas Yojana, who lost their houses due to the floods, will get a new house as well as Rs 1 lakh as cash assistance, Fadnavis said.

“We will also give foodgrains for the next three months free of cost to the flood-affected people,” he said.

Small traders and merchants affected by the floods will get 75 per cent amount of their total loss or up to Rs50,000 as financial assistance from the state, he said.

In another step, the government has relaxed its norms for damage assessment and allowed the reports of talathis (local level revenue officials) and the village sarpanch to be considered as valid for awarding compensation, Fadnavis said.

“I hope some people will not misuse this relaxation. If found doing so, they will face legal action,” the chief minister warned.

The government will also mobilise its administrative machinery and provide all official documents such as ration card, 7/12 land title receipt and property card, among others, free of cost to the flood-affected people, Fadnavis said.

The CM informed the last week’s Cabinet proposal, seeking Rs6,000-crore financial assistance from the Centre for the flood-hit areas, has been received by officials concerned in New Delhi.

“I was told by Union Home Minister Amit Shah he has received the report. Once the report is received, a team to survey the areas will reach Maharashtra and this will be followed by (release) of the assistance,” Fadnavis said.

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