BALANGIR/BHAWANIPATNA:An inter-ministerial team from the Centre visited the drought-affected areas of Kalahandi and Balangir on Friday. The team members, divided into two groups, visited several villages in both the Western Odisha districts and held discussions with affected farmers.
In Balangir, the five-member team led by Commissioner of Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy, SK Dutta arrived in Sibtula village and then proceeded towards Bhutiarbahal, Singhamunda, Bandupalla. The members spoke to farmers about the extent of crop loss, availability of irrigation and prevailing drought situation in the villages.
They also convened a meeting with members of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) at Bandhapada gram panchayat office on various farmers’ issues. Later on, they visited Brahmanijoar village under Deogaon block and went round a minor irrigation project in the village, which has been lying defunct for the last 15 years.
In Kalahandi, the four-member Central team, led by KS Srinivasan, Joint Secretary in the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, interacted with farmers and villagers to take stock of the crop damage. Srinivasan, the team leader, expressed concern over widespread damage to crops, including paddy, due to the drought. They visited Karlapada, Haldi and Kendububka in Bhawanipatna block; Utkela, Patikudi and Nasigaon in Kesinga block; Gunjermal, Ulikupa, Saria, Nisanpur in Narla block of Kalahandi district and interacted with farmers.
On Thursday evening, the team members held meetings with the Collector and district-level officials. The officials had informed them about the need of Rs 18.45 crore for distribution of agriculture input subsidy to 35,247 farmers.
The district administration sought financial assistance of Rs 145.5 crore to tide over the drought situation.
The drought, triggered by failure of monsoon, has affected 1,642 villages spread over 234 gram panchayats out of a total 2,248 villages in Kalahandi district, according an assessment by the Agriculture Department.
The Department assessment had revealed that 49,304 ha of paddy land and 21,743 ha of non-paddy land had been adversely affected due to erratic monsoon and moisture stress condition.
Srinivasan said crops in both the districts have been badly affected due to deficit rainfall and they would submit a report to the Central Government in this regard.
Sambalpur: Farmers under the aegis of Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanwaya Samiti (POKSSS) will begin a three-phase agitation across Western Odisha districts on December 18 over their demands. They will conduct public hearing by roping in family members of farmers who committed suicide. The first such hearing will be held in Bargarh district on December 20, said POKSSS leader Lingaraj. The agitation will conclude with a farmers’ convention in February next year.