Bhubaneswar: The BJP on Thursday demanded a judicial probe into the series of farmer suicide cases in Odisha.
“The investigation into the farmer suicide cases by the collectors of their respective district is not unbiased and the reason is best known to the state government. We, therefore, demand a judicial probe into the cases to bring truths to the limelight,” Mohapatra told reporters in the state capital after winding up his visit to the drought prone districts.
Referring to the drought situation in south Odisha, Mohapatra said the situation in 14 blocks of Rayagada, Gajapati and Kandhamal districts is grim.
The state government should declare these 14 blocks at completely drought-affected areas, he said, adding that taking stock of the plight of the farmers in all drought-affected areas of the state, the state government should waive all loans of these farmers.
Holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for unabated farmers’ suicide in drought-hit Odisha, the saffron party demanded immediate waiver of all farm loans and magisterial inquiry into all these peasant death cases allegedly due to crop failure and debt burden.
“The state government should immediately announce waiving of all agricultural loans taken from all sources by distressed farmers. It will act as a ray of hope for debt-ridden farmers, hit hard by drought,” Mohapatra said.
Accusing the BJD regime of being indifferent towards the miseries of farmers, he said farm loans obtained from all sources, including private agencies and money lenders, must be waived forthwith to check suicide by farmers.
Stating that a BJP team undertook a four-day visit to Gajapati, Kandhamal and Rayagada districts and studied the situation at 50 places spread over 14 blocks, Mohapatra said though the situation was “disastrous and grave”, the government is yet to declare these districts as drought-affected.
Dismissing stories floated by BJD leaders and officers about suicide of farmers, the BJP stalwart demanded that every farmer death case be probed by a judicial magistrate in an impartial manner to unravel the truth.
Terming inquiry reports of district collectors on farmer suicide as biased, Mohapatra said “magisterial inquiry must be conducted into every farmer death case.”
During its visit to various areas, the BJP team saw the ground situation and spoke to people and found that farmers were forced to commit suicide due to crop failure and heavy debt burden. “However, government failed to gauge gravity of the situation as neither ministers nor officials visited the affected areas to assess the situation,” he said.
Hitting out at the state government for inaction, the BJP leader said while states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have already made drought notifications and submitted detailed reports to the Centre, Odisha is yet to send a single report or letter.
The chief minister simply meeting the Union Finance Minister in Delhi and informally discussing the situation was meaningless without submitting detailed report about the drought condition, he said.
Criticizing the chief minister for not asking the ministers to study drought situation and farmers’ plight during their visit to different districts, Mohapatra claimed that farmers were committing suicide because of CM’s failure to take concrete steps and neglect of his own departments.
“Though the chief minister issued a communication on October 29 to all ministers asking them to tour districts to oversee implementation of different plans and programmes of their departments, there was no instruction to take stock of drought situation and miseries of farmers,” he claimed.
At a time when the entire state is reeling under severe drought, the CM simply asked the ministers only to review the work of their own department in the districts without making any reference to drought, the BJP leader said.
“Ironically, the chief minister also asked ministers to review the work in districts with department officials without putting much pressure on district administration. It was nothing but a shameful act,” Mohapatra said.
Officers in the districts would not take the ministers seriously and cooperate with them in review work if the chief minister issues such a letter, he said.
The BJP leader also lashed out at the BJD government for not appointing District Grievance Redressal Officers as per the provision of the National Food Security ACt (NFSA) and said a large number of people were unable to present their grievances about ration cards at appropriate forum in the absence of these officials.
(With Agency Inputs)