Bhubaneswar: Even as the ruling BJD reiterated, both in the previous and current session of Assembly, that farmer suicide cases in the State are not because of crop loss, the Opposition sought to know from the treasury bench the reason behind the death of 174 farmers who have ended their lives in the past couple of months as per the government's own admission.
Replying to a query during question hour on the matter, Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy said the government had received reports on the death of 174 peasants. The minister, however, refused to admit crop damage as the reason behind the deaths.
“The government admits that the farmers who have ended their lives had faced severe crop loss. But their death can’t be linked to crop loss. As per the inquiry reports, there must be some other reasons for their deaths,” Maharathy told the House.
Expressing displeasure and anguish over the ‘ridiculous’ statement of the minister, BJP’s Pradeep Purohit alleged the State government has either fabricated the inquiry reports of the Collectors or asked the latter to submit a sanitised report on the cases.
“Will anybody believe that the farmers had faced crop loss but their deaths were not due to this? By saying this, the government is making a fool of itself. We don’t understand why it is not coming with the truth,” rued the Padampur legislator.
“The farmers ended their lives fearing difficulty in repaying loans, but the government is not paying heed to their problems. It is heart-rending that in consecutive sessions of the House, it is avoiding to discuss the matter,” stated Purohit.
Criticising the government, Congress’ Prakash Behera said it was unfortunate that illness, mental disturbance, heart attack and family quarrels have been cited as the reason behind deaths of the debt-ridden peasants.
“It is clear from the minister’s statement that the government is trying to hide facts and is misguiding the House. We condemn such an attitude of the government,” he said.
BJD spokesperson Sashibhusan Behera, however, said,” Why will the government admit that the farmer deaths are due to crop loss, when the inquiry reports don’t show this? If the report is proved to be false, action will be taken.”
Notably, in the winter session of Odisha Assembly, the ruling BJD while making public the inquiry reports of respective Collectors had maintained that no farmers committed suicide due to agricultural crisis.
"The Collectors' report did not even indicate that crop loss and debt burden were the reasons behind the death of farmers," the minister had claimed then.