Jaitley for “significant” rise in crop damage compensation to farmers

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said he was currently reviewing the quantum of compensation that farmers get from the government for crop damage, and that he was personally of the opinion that it should be “increased significantly”.

Jaitley, speaking at the conclusion of the two day Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national executive meeting, said that the Expenditure Commission of the Finance Ministry was in the process of looking at hiking the compensation to farmers for crop damage.  

The Finance Minister had toured parts of Rajasthan in end March to assess the impact of crop damage because of unseasonal rains and hailstorms in the state. At the time, Jaitley had promised more central help to affected farmers.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked all his ministers to tour areas affected by crop damage.

Multi-pronged approach to discourage tobacco use

The Finance Minister also said that a “multi-pronged approach to discourage” the use of tobacco was needed. He said the government’s two budgets have indicated as much. Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wasn’t pleased with comments by BJP MPs Shyama Charan Gupta and Dilip Gandhi denying any correlation between tobacco use and cancer.

The PM, according to sources, wants Gupta and others with “conflict of interest” to quit the parliamentary committee of subordinate legislation that is looking into the rules regarding tobacco sale in the country. Modi discussed the issue of conflict of interest with senior party leaders.

Gupta, a BJP MP from Allahabad, has come for severe criticism from opposition parties and doctors for his comments on tobacco use. “I can produce a lot of people in front of you who are chain smokers of beedi and till date they have had no disease, no cancer…You get diabetes due to eating sugar, rice potatoes. Why don’t you write warnings on all these as well,” Gupta said. Gandhi, the BJP MP from Ahmednagar who heads the parliamentary committee, has said that tobacco helps in digestion.