Bhubaneswar: In a major disappointment for farmers in Odisha, Cooperation Minister Surya Narayan Patro informed the Odisha Assembly that presently there is no proposal to waive crop loans.
Earlier on April 5, 2017, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said that the government will examine the matter of crop loan waiver. Then, it had come as a relief for many farmers in State including Praska Kundu of Rayagada.
Kundu, a resident of Kalyansinghpur block in Rayagada had availed Rs 60,000 loan for paddy cultivation. However, his crop was affected by natural calamities and pest menace. He was living in hope of a loan waiver following Chief Minister's comments.
"The government had assured of a loan waiver but now it has turned its back which will land us in trouble. I will not be able to send my children to school," said Kundu.
Similarly, Lambudhar Behera of Oupada in Balasore had availed Rs 10,000 loan from a cooperative society. But the announcement by Patro has come as a shock to him.
"The minister said there will be no loan waiver; what other option do we have other than death," said Behera.
States such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have already waived loans taken by farmers. The farmers in Odisha were expecting a similar step by the State government.
As per reports, nearly 40 lakh farmers have availed crop loans in the State and over Rs 24,000 crore of such loans are still unpaid.
On the other hand, opposition parties have slammed the government over Patro's reply.
"The decision of State government is like an insult to injury of farmers. The government is cheating them," said BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit.
"State government has no pity for the farmers and it was proved from the announcement. It is surely an insult of the farmers," said Congress MLA, Devendra Sharma.
However, Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy said discussions over crop loan waiver are underway and the decision will be announced soon. "It is a pro-farmer government and is always concerned about the development of farmers," he added.
It is worthwhile to mention that the State government has a separate Agriculture budget in which Rs 250 crore was allocated for welfare of farmers this year. However, there was no announcement for crop loan waiver.