Bhubaneswar, Oct 25 (PTI) The Odisha government today declared drought in 70 blocks spread across 15 districts and announced a special package for this year's kharif season to mitigate hardships being faced by farmers.
The crop loss report was received from district collectors yesterday.
While making the announcement, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said agricultural input subsidy will be provided to small and marginal farmers who have suffered crop loss of 33 per cent and above at the rate of Rs 6,800 per hectare in rain-fed or non-irrigated areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare in areas under assured irrigation.
He said short term loans given to farmers in the affected areas having crop loss of 33 per cent in the kharif season and above will be converted into medium term loans.
"The central government will be requested to provide interest incentive of 3 per cent for medium term loans which is on par with crop loans for prompt paying farmers," Patnaik said.
The district administration has been asked to keep a close watch on moneylenders and unscrupulous elements who may cause financial hardship to the farmers. The police have been instructed to initiate tough action against such elements under Odisha Money Lenders Act and various sections of the CrPC, he said.
The superintendents of police will have the responsibility to proactively deal with it and the DIGs will review the matter.
He said collection of water rate in drought-affected villages is waived for the current year.
Tuition and examination fees in government and aided schools and colleges in drought affected areas will also be waived, the chief minister said.
The assistance will be provided to actual cultivators, he said, adding farmers affected by drought in the kharif season will be provided fresh finance for cultivation in the current rabi season, which has commenced from October 1.
Patnaik said 1.25 lakh pulse minikits, 0.5 lakh oilseed minikits and 0.25 lakh vegetable minikits will be supplied to the farmers for the rabi programme in drought-affected villages.
To help the farmers, the Odisha government would provide 5,000 pump sets at 50 per cent subsidy limited to Rs 15,000. Besides, availability of pump sets in different agro service centres will be published so that farmers can hire those equipment.
Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation will take immediate steps to repair the lift irrigation (LI) points in all the affected villages on priority basis, besides steps to operate all LI points during the rabi season. Steps would also be taken to energise all pending deep bore wells on priority, an official statement said.
The affected farmers will be provided employment under MGNREGA by the panchayatiraj department to construct water harvesting structures, de-silting of field canals, diversion weirs and others. The state government will provide 50 days of additional work in the drought affected areas, Patnaik said.
Landless, marginal and small farmers in the drought- affected gram panchayats of the 70 blocks will be provided livelihood support in terms of backyard poultry.
"Fifty per cent remission in respect of cess on land revenue will be given to farmers where crop loss is 33 per cent. Collection of the remaining amount will be deferred to the next financial year without levying any interest," Patnaik said.