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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: With the farm loan waiver issue heating up the political landscape across the country, the Odisha government today announced Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme for supporting small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers in the state.

The total expenditure under KALIA scheme will be around Rs 10,000 crore over a period of three years till 2020-21. Chairing a cabinet meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today approved the decision to implement the new scheme.

As part of the scheme, the government has decided to provide small and marginal farmers financial support of Rs 10,000 per year at the rate of Rs 5000 each for Kharif and Rabi seasons. Over 30 lakh farmers will be benefitted for purchasing pesticides and seeds through this scheme.

Secondly, livelihood support for landless households at Rs 12,500 per each family will also be ensured through this scheme. Landless farmers can avail any one of the several livelihood options like small goat rearing unit, dual purpose low input technology bird unit, duckery unit, fishery kit, mushroom cultivation or bee keeping. The government has targeted to cover around 10 lakh households under this category.

Similarly, about 5 lakh landless farmers who are unable to receive any one of the two aforesaid benefits will be provided financial assistance of Rs 10,000 to take care of their agriculture or other requirements.

This apart, the State government will also provide life insurance support to cultivators and landless labourers through a cover of Rs 2, 00,000. Provision for additional personal accident cover of Rs 2, 00,000 has also been made under the scheme. Around 57 lakh such households will get benefits.

The government has also decided to make all the farm loans under Rs 50,000 interest free. Earlier the farm loans were charged at 1 per cent interest.

After announcing the scheme, CM Patnaik said “KALIA scheme is progressive, inclusive and will make a direct attack on poverty by way of a massive investment in this sector and ensuring that benefits are provided through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode."

BJP leader Golak Mohapatra said "The state government had announced several such schemes in the past 19 years of BJD rule, but be it input subsidy or implementation of Parbati Giri project, all of them have failed miserably. The BJD-led government is only focused on announcing schemes, but in reality the benefits of the programmes never really reach the grassroots."

The saffron party Vice president Samir Mohanty said "It is very unfortunate that after nearly two decades, the government has now realised the plight of farmers. However, the new announcement by CM Naveen is just to mislead the people.

Congress leader Sarat Rout said "Rather than announcing one more scheme, it would have been better if the CM had simply expressed his inability to implement the farm loan waiver proposal."

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