Despite paddy farmers across Odisha drawing the attention of the government to various problems including delay in paddy procurement, the opening of mandis, and existing ‘katni chatni’, no one seems to be paying heed to their plight.
Expressing outrage, farmers of Nayagarh district staged a dharna demanding the immediate end of ‘katni chatni’. Hundreds of farmers from several blocks of the district assembled at the District Collectorate and participated in the agitation. The peasants alleged that at least 8-10 kilos of rice is deducted as ‘katni chatni’ in every packet of paddy in mandis across Nayagarh district.
The protesting farmers alleged that ‘katni chatni’ has broken their financial backbone. They added that the illegal practice has come as a double whammy for them as many of them are reeling under crop loss and debts.
Furthermore, the millers bought paddy from brokers and middlemen instead of genuine farmers forcing the latter to give away their produce for a lesser price. On the other hand, a huge quantity of paddy was being smuggled to the neighbouring states, it was alleged.
The peasants accused the government and officials concerned of turning a blind eye to their problems and lambasted local MLA Arun Sahoo for his inefficiency. The agitation was called off after Nayagarh Collector promised to form a squad to stop ‘katni chatni’ and look into other problems of the farmers.
“If the katni chatni continues, we will create Mahabharat at mandis and turn Odisha into a battlefield. It is all happening because the District Collector, Deputy Collector, officials of the Supply Department, and CSO Squad are in deep slumber. MLA Arun Sahoo is a local boy and hopefully, he will understand our problems. He should visit the mandis and understand the problems we are facing,” an agitated farmer stated.
“We are calling off the agitation but will intensify our protest if this ‘katni chatni’ does not end here and now,” he added.
No comment could be obtained from MLA Arun Sahoo in this regard.