BHUBANESWAR: Rejecting the State Government’s claim that none of the farmers committed suicide due to crop failure and loan burden, the Opposition Congress on Wednesday dared the ruling BJD to enquire all cases of unnatural death either by an Assembly committee or by a judicial commission.
Claiming that 141 farmers in the State have committed suicide in less than a year, Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra said never in the history of the State such a large number of farmers took their lives in such a short period of time.
Moving a motion on State Government’s indifference to farmers’ suicide due to crop loss and loan burden, Mishra said, “It is not drought alone which caused death of farmers, but the State Government’s betrayal to the community forced many to commit suicide.”
Launching a tirade against the State Government for its indifference to the farmers, Mishra said the hapless farmers chose the extreme step in desperation after losing confidence in the Government.
Farmers Feel Betrayed by Govt: Cong
The State Government in 2006 promised to provide irrigation facilities to at least 35 per cent of cultivable land in each block of the State within five years. The promise was not fulfilled. Then, they had promised in 2008 that at least 35 per cent of land in each village would be irrigated within five years. That promise also failed, Mishra said.
Further, the State Government in 2014 promised to provide crop loan to small and marginal farmers at the rate of only 1 per cent interest. The Government is yet to keep its promise.
“Did you not promise that you would provide free electricity? Have you given it to the farmers? On the contrary, the farmers are asked to pay higher tariff. Where was your promise?,” he asked the Government.
Alleging that the district collectors’ inquiry reports on farmers suicide were totally false, Mishra referred to a written reply by Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathy on Wednesday in the Assembly in which he said that joint inspection will be conducted by the Collector and the Superintendent of Police of the affected district and the report will be submitted to the Home department.
Mishra asked the State Government to lay the reports submitted by district collectors on the alleged suicides in the Assembly.
In a bid to embarrass the State Government, Mishra laid a copy of the recorded statement of the family members of the deceased farmers of Balangir district along with a video tape in the House to prove that the district collector’s report is false.
Suggesting modalities on how to check the farmers’ suicide in the State, Mishra said announcement of drought package could not alone stop this menace. This was because the farmers had lost confidence in the Government as its promises made in 2006, 2008 and 2014 had not yet been fulfilled.
Advising the State Government to call for an all-party meeting to find a solution to the problem, Mishra suggested constitution of an all-party panel at the district-level in the State to take stock of the grim situation so that some positive steps can be taken. The Congress leader also demanded Rs 20 lakh ex gratia to each family of deceased farmer and compensation of Rs 20,000 per acre of crop loss.
In his reply to the motion, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Bijayshree Routray read out the steps the State Government has taken for the drought- hit farmers. Five ministers, including Routray, participated in the discussion.