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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: Several activists of Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS) on Wednesday tried to gherao the residence of Odisha Agriculture and Farmers' Empowerment Minister Arun Sahoo while protesting the alleged reduction of financial assistance given to the farmers under the State-sponsored KALIA scheme.

However, police intervened and took several agitators including women activists into custody to prevent any untoward incident.

It may be noted that NNKS national convenor Akshay Kumar has been on a fast-unto-death agitation opposing CM Naveen Patnaik’s decision to reduce KALIA assistance to Rs 4,000 per annum from Rs 10,000 since last 15 days.

“Akshay Kumar has been on hunger strike since the last 16 days but the Government has remained silent towards our demands. We want the full KALIA assistance that CM Naveen had declared with so much pride saying that no one can deprive the people of KALIA as long as he is alive but now after the 2019 elections we see the State government going back on its words. Agriculture Minister and CM Naveen should resign for giving false promises. They (BJD) have cheated us after taking votes from us,” said an agitating member of NNKS.

Another protester alleged that so far only 25 per cent farmers have received KALIA assistance so it is a gross injustice to the community.

Earlier in December, the State Government had decided to reduce KALIA assistance to the farmers after it merged the scheme with the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) initiative launched in February 2019.

After the merger, the small farmers/marginal farmers will be entitled to Rs 5,000 for 2019- 20 and Rs 4,000 per year from 2020-21, which means they will get Rs 10,000 annually i.e Rs 6,000 from PM-KISAN and Rs 4,000 from KALIA, informed a notification released by Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment department in December.

Senior BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan said, “BJD government garnered votes by promising farmers to provide Rs 25,000 in five instalments under KALIA scheme. Now it has reduced the amount to Rs 4,000. CM Naveen Patnaik should clarify whether the scheme is still alive or dead.”


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