Bhubaneswar: Thousands of farmers from across Odisha under the aegis of Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS) today staged a mass agitation in the capital city protesting the Naveen Patnaik-led government’s apathy towards their longstanding demands of price, pension and prestige.
The major demands of the farmers gathered at the Lower PMG included a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy and a security allowance of Rs 5000 per month for as many as 36 lakh farmers who have attained the age of 20 years.
This apart, they demanded that the government should come up with an annual budget allocation of Rs 21,600 crore for all the farmers. They also demanded that they should be paid pension on attaining 60 years of age.
However, much to the surprise of all, BJD Rajya Sabha candidate Soumya Ranjan Patnaik who had been spearheading the farmers’ agitation and criticised Naveen Patnaik last year for anti-farmer policies, was not seen in the agitation today.
Coordinator of the Krushak Sangh Akshay Kumar stated, “If Naveen Patnaik does not fulfill our demands, then I think Soumya Babu should take up our cause and help in getting our demands fulfilled. If he does not think of the farmers now, then he will not stay in the hearts of farmers anymore.”
On the other hand, BJD leader Tejeswar Parida said, “The government has held discussions with the Krushak Sangathan and a decision in this regard will be taken at the appropriate time. I can assure that Odisha government will be the first government to fulfill farmers’ demands.”
Meanwhile in Maharashtra, the farmers’ agitation was called off after a meeting between a farmers’ delegation and a 6-member committee of ministers appointed by the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai where reportedly the government has accepted their major demands.
Earlier, over 50,000 farmers from across Maharashtra, led by the All India Kisan Sabha had started on a ‘Long March’ from Nashik to Mumbai on March 6 and pressed for demands of unconditional loan waiver and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers who have been cultivating it for years.