BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has told all party MPs, MLAs and district presidents to visit drought-hit villages and acquaint themselves with problems faced by farmers, who are reeling under an acute agrarian crisis triggering a spate of suicides. In the last two months, at least 60 farmers have ended their lives over crop loss and debts.
Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathi was greeted with black flags and eggs were thrown at him in Balangir and Nuapada districts. Minister of Higher Education Pradip Panigrahy was shown black flags in Bargarh. “Reports submitted by district collectors on suicide cases is biased. Only a judicial inquiry can reveal the truth. District visit reports of senior IAS officers should be made public,” BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said.
The government has asked District Collectors to conduct sensitisation and counselling camps in villages.
Even when large parts of the state received below normal rainfall in September, the Odisha government refused to acknowledge a drought-like condition. Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s offer of sending a team to assess the situation went unheeded. Patnaik was quick to announce a drought assistance package of Rs 1,000 crore and sought a Special Central Assistance of Rs 3,500 crore.
“Collectors maintained in their reports that farmers’ deaths were not related to loan burden and crop loss. Now he (Patnaik) asks his party leaders to visit villages,” said Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Narasingh Mishra.