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Unseasonal rainfall, token system irregularities leave Odisha farmers in distress

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Bhubaneswar: Unseasonal rainfall across many parts of Odisha has brought serious trouble for paddy farmers of the State with huge quantities of unsold harvest found soaking in the open.

Particularly in the districts of Balasore, Sonepur, Boudh and Bhadrak, resentment was seen among farmers as unseasonal rain reportedly exposed their unsold paddy to damages. While paddy has not been procured in some places due to irregularities in token system, at some places paddy has reportedly started to germinate after getting soaked in rain.

“We have not received tokens yet. Our produce was supposed to be procured on February 21. But in this rainy weather, we urge the local administration to ensure procurement of paddy as quickly as possible,” said a farmer, Saroj Kumar Das.

On the other hand, a farmer who reportedly raised his voice against irregularities in token system at Kamakshyanagar in Dhenkanal was physically assaulted and verbally abused by the former president of a cooperative society, Ashok Nayak and his son Amaresh Nayak, a data entry operator engaged in the society. The incident reportedly took place on February 11 and a video of the same has gone viral on social media.

“When we complained about irregularities, he (Ashok Nayak) physically assaulted us. Later, we remained silent out of fear,” said complainant Nrusingha Sahu.

Refuting the allegations, the former president of the cooperative samiti said, “He tried to attack me and didn’t want the Mandi to be opened. The video has been doctored.”

Meanwhile, ruckus continued inside State Assembly over irregularities in paddy procurement for the 2nd consecutive day. From the beginning of the question hour session today, Congress and BJP members created disturbance and raised slogans by holding placards inside the House.

The Opposition parties accused the State government of striking a deal with middlemen and not buying paddy. After the House was adjourned twice over the issue, Speaker Surjya Narayan Patro called for an all party meeting and gave a ruling that by March 31 paddy will be procured from farmers who have received tokens.

Speaking on the issue, Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra said, “Farmers are struggling to survive. And if we MLAs can’t give protection to the farmers then what is the point in running the Assembly.”

In response to opposition’s allegations, ruling-BJD Chief Whip Pramilla Mallick said, “Govt is ready to procure paddy of those farmers who have registered online.”

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