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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

 It seems the Odisha government has not learnt any lesson even after last year’s all out protests by farmers and Opposition parties across the State over the irregularities in paddy procurement.

With the harvest season around the corner, the cunning middlemen in Sambalpur district have reportedly taken advantage of the unpreparedness of the State government and left no stone unturned to continue the irregularities in the Kharif paddy procurement process this year as well.

As per reports, forests, bushes, residential plots, barren fields, ponds and even non-agricultural lands in the district have been illegally registered for paddy procurement process through cooperative societies. Illegal registration of around 9,100 such ineligible plots has been identified through satellite images taken by the Odisha Space Application Centre (ORSAC).

Following the disclosures, a probe has been launched and another field survey is currently being undertaken on ground zero while photos of the illegally registered plots are re-identified and uploaded through Odisha Paddy Land Survey Application (OPLSA). Maps of around 99 per cent of the forged lands identified by ORSAC have so far been uploaded in OPLSA.

As per the government procedure, employees of revenue, cooperative and agriculture departments approve the registration of lands for Kharif paddy procurement following field surveys.

Under these circumstances, question mark has been raised over the transparency in the survey process. Farmers of the district have alleged involvement of the departmental employees in the massive corruption.

Responding to the allegations, deputy manager of Cooperative Societies Federation, Sambalpur, Lingaraj Nayak said that a report will be submitted to the department after the completion of investigations into the alleged lapses.

“We have launched an investigation into the allegations and found some irregularities during the process. A detailed report will be submitted to the department after the completion of the probe,” said Nayak.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders have expressed their concerns over the development and demanded a thorough probe.

“It is a very sensitive issue. The farmers of the district will be at the receiving end because of the alleged irregularities and massive corruption. An investigation should be ordered into the incident,” said BJP leader and Rengali MLA Nauri Nayak.

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