Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: A day after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme to support small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers in the State, questions are now being raised on how far it will be able to cover all the eligible beneficiaries.

While CM Naveen claimed that 32 lakh farmer families will be benefitted by scheme, Odisha Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy, while quoting a 2010-11 survey in the Odisha Assembly on April 17, had said that that the total number of farmer families in Odisha is 46,67, 466. The number goes up to 67, 39,993 if agricultural labourers are included.

Such discrepancies in the number of beneficiaries are raising doubts over inclusion of all the eligible ones in the scheme.

“I don’t remember what I had said in the Assembly during the last session, but the total number of farmer families is 32 lakh,” Pradeep Maharathy said.

While the Nava Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS) which is heading the ongoing farmers’ agitation dubbed the KALIA scheme as old wine in new bottle, BJP has also slammed the State government over the scheme.

“The State government is going to present an old dress in a new packet. They are attempting to divert the attention from price, prestige and pension issues,” NNKS coordinator Akshay Kumar said.

On the other hand, BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said, “KALIA scheme is a false promise ahead of the general elections. It will be difficult for the government to provide the benefits if they don’t have a list of beneficiaries.”

Similarly, AICC Secretary Sarat Rout said, “There is no budgetary provision for the scheme. This is just a political gimmick ahead of the elections next year.”