Odisha Drought Package Has Failed to Stop Farmer Suicides: BJP

Odisha Drought Package Has Failed to Stop Farmer Suicides: BJP

Slamming the BJD government for delaying amendment to Odisha Land Reforms Act, opposition BJP today said that the drought package announced by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has failed to stop farmer suicides as it was faulty.

"The drought package announced by the CM is faulty and full of discrepancies. It shows the BJD government is not at all serious about mitigating the plight of farmers hit by drought and debt burden," senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra told reporters here.

Stating that suicide by farmers continued to rise even after the package was announced on October 14, Mohapatra said in a span of one-and-half months 36 to 40 farmers have committed suicide as the entire state is reeling under drought conditions. "In fact, incidents of suicide increased after the announcement of drought package."

Claiming that the package suffers from many loopholes,he said it ironically provides for agriculture input subsidy of Rs 6,800 per hectare in rain-fed and non-irrigated areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare under assured irrigation area.

"It exhibits the callous approach of the state government which has failed to gauge the gravity of the situation and the reason behind farmer suicide," he said adding the government failed to realise that majority of the distressed peasants are engaged in share farming.

The BJD regime has also failed to understand that most of the farmers who committed suicide were small and marginal farmers who had borrowed from private money lenders and not from any government agency, Mohapatra said.

Coming down heavily on the BJD regime for delay in bringing necessary amendments to Odisha Land Reforms (OLR) Act, the BJP stalwart said a high-powered committee had gone into the issue and law department's opinion was also obtained.

However, the proposed measure has been lying with the CM for over six months without any concrete action, Mohapatra alleged and added that those engaged in share farming would not get any benefit from assistance package without amendment in OLR Act.

Accusing Odisha government of being "callous" towards farmers' problems, Mohapatra said it failed to prepare any contingency plan when the possibility of drought was predicted in the state this year due to scanty rainfall.

The state government woke up only after the central team visited the drought-affected areas, he said adding BJD regime's response was confined to the state secretariat and no action was taken to bring relief to the farming community.

The BJP leader also hit out at the state government for seeking central assistance for drought and said the move was surprising after Rs 9,000 crore was returned unspent to the Centre. Similarly, utilisation certificate was yet to be given for Rs 12,000 crore of central funds, he claimed.

Stating that BJP wants the the present situation to be declared as a calamity, he said the party has opened a helpline centre for distressed farmers who can share their problems through the facility.

BJP would take up their issues with the state government, he added.

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