Hyderabad: The High Court here on Friday passed strictures against the Telangana government, saying it was making contradictory statements and submissions with a view to evading the grant of ex-gratia to farmers following the massive crop loss due to the rains and floods in the 2020 Kharif Season.
The court noted that the state failed to discharge its duty even as the central government released Rs 245 crore for this purpose. The TS government, after the court's grilling, admitted it diverted the central funds sent for flood relief for Covid fight in the state.
Finding fault with the submissions made before the court by the state, like “no single paisa worth crop loss occurred other than a reduction of yield,” the high court asked, if so, why the websites of government agriculture department showed a “huge crop loss.” And, why did the state sought assistance from the central government under the Disaster Relief Fund?
Advocate General BS Prasad was grilled by the division bench comprising acting chief justice Ramachandra Rao and Justice Vinod Kumar in relation to the non-distribution of ex-gratia for crop loss and the failure of the government to provide crop insurance to Telangana farmers.
The bench was adjudicating a PIL, which complained that assistance was not extended to farmers for loss of crops and livestock after the incessant rains that lashed the state in September and October last year.
The petitioners also brought to the notice of the court that there existed no provision for crop insurance in the Telangana State.
“You (the government) gave Rs 10,000 as financial aid to each family in the flood-hit areas of GHMC in the run-up to the municipal elections. But you did not give a single paisa to the farmers. Worse, now you say there was no loss to the crops. But we note that the Chief Minister sent a letter to the Prime Minister, saying crops worth about Rs 1,300 crore were damaged,” the court noted.
A central team inspected the affected areas and estimated a loss of crops worth around Rs 188 crore. But, concealing all these facts, now you are submitting before the court that there was no loss,” the court noted.
Further, the bench observed, “It is difficult to believe there is no crop loss. A miracle it was if the estimated huge crop loss became zero. How could the magnitude of this loss become zero,” the court asked the TS government.
The court asked the government: “After the chief minister wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, a central team visited the state for field inspection and estimated the crop loss. If there was no crop loss, did you bring this aspect to the notice of the central government? Was the central team informed about this aspect? Did you inform them that the crop loss was estimated wrongly and now you have realized this was an error on your part?“
Advocate general informed the bench that the cause espoused by the petitioners was not real and the quantum of loss projected by the petitioners was incorrect. The extent of crop loss was assessed based on the preliminary estimations of the government, he said.
Sharply reacting to this, the bench observed, “Prima facie, this court will not accept your contention that there is no loss, because the central government has furnished a memo dated 7 September 2021 stating that an amount of Rs 599 crore has been deposited into the account under SDRF for this purpose. The central team visited the state and assessed the crop loss and reduced the crop loss estimates prepared by the Telangana from Rs 595 crore to Rs 188.23 crore. Such data is on record and this cannot be disputed, observed the acting CJ.
AG said the Rs 595 crore included the funds allotted for the damage occurred in Hyderabad city due to the floods. He also submitted that “some amount released under state disaster relief fund scheme has been diverted and utilised for the Covid19 fight.
The central government submitted before the court that Rs 977 crores had been released for TS under SDRF....