" --IANS"
Mumbai, Feb 14 - In the wake of unseasonal rains and hailstorms lashing Maharashtra since Sunday, the government on Wednesday announced a compensation package of Rs 200 crore for farmers who suffered damage to standing crops.

An immediate aid package of Rs 200 crore has been cleared by the government to be disbursed as per existing norms and various parameters, said Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fudkar.

The government will request the Centre to clear the amount even as the final reports from all regions are expected in a couple of days, he added.

Fundkar said according to the preliminary survey reports, agriculture produce in more than 190,000 hectares was damaged or destroyed, hitting around 1,800 villages in at least 11 districts of Vidarbha, Marathwada and surrounding areas.

While tentative reports of the losses of in many hailstorm-hit areas had been received, the final report on losses due to unseasonal rains in Buldhana, Nanded, Bhandara, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Wardha was expected by Friday, he added.

The matter was also discussed in the cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The compensation will range between Rs 6,800 and Rs 13,500 per hectare for cereals and between Rs 23,300 and Rs 40,000 for fruits or horticulture, if they are insured.

For those whose crops are not insured, the farmers would get an assistance of Rs 18,000 per hectare, the minister said.

The natural calamity that struck on Sunday has so far claimed four lives, besides many smaller animals, birds and fowl.

--IANS

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