The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday estimated losses of Rs 500 crore to the state’s agriculture and horticulture sectors from this month’s early snowfall, PTI reported. Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam requested the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre to send a team to assess the damage and expedite the release of financial assistance to the affected farmers.

The chief secretary wrote a letter to Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare’s Union secretary to explain the magnitude of the problem. “As per the preliminary assessment done by the state government’s field agencies, nearly 53,000 hectares of horticulture and 9,000 hectares of agriculture crops have been severely damaged and the tentative losses are estimated at over Rs 500 crore,” Subrahmanyam said.

He told the central authorities that the State Disaster Response Fund guidelines allow for only a fraction of the required aid to be released and the amount is “not sufficient to compensate the affected farmers”. The chief secretary said heavy snowfall on November 3 and 4 had led to major damage to the apple crops.

The India Meteorological Department forecast an improvement in the state’s weather on Wednesday.