Mathura, Uttar Pradesh: First, Satish Chand, a farmer from Chhata village in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura district, lost his entire wheat crop worth Rs 80,000, because of the unseasonal March rains and hailstorms. Then, to add insult to injury, the meagre Rs. 18,000 compensation cheque he got from the state government, bounced, yesterday, because the revenue officer's bank account apparently didn't have enough funds.
In fact, even some farmers from Aajhi, a neighbouring village, alleged that several compensation cheques have bounced there. Although that could not be confirmed, these reports come just a few weeks after some farmers said they received cheques for absurd amounts, like Rs 73, Rs 186 and Rs 750, to cover their losses.
With lakhs of farmers in 55 out of 80 districts in Uttar Pradesh, suffering losses worth Rs. 1,100 crores due to the unseasonal rains, the state government in April said it is distributing compensation worth a total of Rs. 500 crores. Farmers are beginning to wonder where exactly this money has gone, or if it has been distributed at all. Something clearly doesn't add up, they say.
Mathura district officials deny there's any shortage of funds. "So far the government has sent us 122 crores, and there's more coming. We have distributed about 20 crores of it to farmers. I heard there was a problem of some kind at one branch, we are going to look into what happened," said Rakesh Kumar, Mathura's District Magistrate.
Some farmers say they already are. "I've seen four or five cases of cheques bouncing," said Devki Nandan, a farmer from Aajhi.
And Shubham Gound, another farmer, said: "Those cheques are worth nothing. They are just plain pieces of paper.''