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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday announced drought assistance package for the farmers facing crop loss of 33 per cent and above during Kharif 2017. He made this announcement here at the Secretariat.

"Agriculture input subsidy will be provided to the small and marginal farmers who have sustained crop loss of 33% and above at Rs 6,800 per hectare of land in rain-fed or non-irrigated areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare of land in areas under assured irrigation," Patnaik said.

Agriculture input subsidy will also be provided to farmers other than small and marginal farmers at the same rates subject to a ceiling of two hectares per farmer. The assistance shall be provided to the actual cultivators, he said.

Farmers affected by drought in Kharif shall be provided fresh finance for Rabi cultivation during current Rabi season, which has commenced from October 1, 2017, the CM said.

Stating that the government is committed to protect the interests of farmers, he said "Short Term Kharif loans advanced in the affected areas during Kharif, 2017 having crop loss of 33% and above shall be converted into Medium Term (Conversion) loans."

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The due date of Kharif Short Term loans advanced in the affected areas will be extended up to September 30, 2018 to facilitate conversion of such loans into Medium Term (Conversion) loans. For this, the Government of India will be requested to provide interest incentive of 3% for Medium Term (Conversion) loans i.e., at par with crop loans for prompt paying farmers, he said.

Patnaik also asked the district administration to keep a close watch on money lenders and other unscrupulous elements causing financial hardship to the farmers and directed the police to initiate tough action against such elements under the Odisha Money Lenders Act and various sections of the CrPC. "The SPs will have the responsibility to proactively deal with this. DIGs will review the matter," he said.

"Five thousand pump sets shall be provided with 50% subsidy limited to Rs.15000 to the farmers. Besides, availability of pump sets in different Agro Service Centres shall be published to enable the farmer to hire the same to save their standing crops. Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation shall take immediate steps to repair the Lift Irrigation Points (LI Points) in all the affected villages on priority. Steps shall be taken to operate all LI Points during Rabi season. A total of 1.25 lakh pulse minikits, 0.5 lakh oilseed minikits and 0.25 lakh vegetable minikits will be supplied to the farmers for the Rabi Programme in the affected villages," the minister said.

The Energy Department shall energize the LI Points immediately. The district level committees constituted to revive defunct LI Points should start the work immediately and complete the same by December 31, 2017, he said, adding that steps should be taken to energize all pending Deep Bore wells on priority.

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MGNREGA works will be taken up by the Panchayati Raj Department to establish water harvesting structures or de-silting of field channels, diversion weirs, etc. ‘’Our Government will provide 50 days of additional work in drought affected areas,’’ the CM said.

Landless, marginal and small farmers in the drought affected GPs of 70 blocks will be provided livelihood support in terms of backyard poultry, Naveen added.

At the same time, a focused approach will be adopted to take up intensive fodder cultivation in these GPs through distribution of suitable fodder kits, Patnaik said.

"Fifty per cent remission in respect of Cess on land revenue will be given to farmers where the crop loss is 33% or more," CM said.

“Collection of the remaining amount will be deferred to the next financial year without levying any interest. Collection of water rate in drought affected villages is waived for the current year,” he added.

This apart, tuition fees and examination fees in Government and aided schools and Colleges in drought affected areas shall be waived, the CM added.

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"The Government has undertaken exemplary works for protection of the interests of the farmers affected by previous disasters. It will continue to work in a dedicated manner to mitigate the difficulties experienced by the farmers in the drought affected areas," he said.

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