Drought situation: Naveen seeks PM’s intervention, Pradhan criticizes move

Bhubaneswar: Rattled by criticism for ‘inaction’ over farmer suicide cases in the State which have unofficially crossed one hundred, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today sought the intervention of prime minister Narendra Modi asking him timely financial assistance from the Centre. However the State government’s move was criticised by union minister Dharmendra Pradhan for failing to act in time.

In a letter to Modi, the CM apprised the former about the recent decision of the State government to reduce interest rate on crop loans from existing 2% to 1%.

“As against the decision of the Union government to provide crop loans to the farming community at 7% rate of interest, my government has been providing interest subvention to the Commercial and Cooperative banks to bring down the rate of interest to 5% and incase of prompt payment the effective rate of interest has been 2% per annum after adjustment of the interest incentive made available by the Union government,” the letter read.

“Keeping in view the prevalent drought situation, my government has decided to further reduce the rate of interest on crop loans from the existing 5% to 4% through interest subvention by the State government for small, marginal and medium farmers. This will ultimately reduce the effective rate on crop loans from the existing 2% to 1% in the case of prompt paying farmers,” the letter further stated.

Patnaik sought the Central Government’s intervention and timely financial assistance for combating the drought situation prevalent in Odisha.

Meanwhile, union minister Dharmendra Pradhan came down heavily on the State government for not sending memorandum about drought situation in the State to the Centre for financial assistance.

Talking to media Pradhan said, “At a time when other States have been granted drought packages after submission of respective memorandums, it is surprising that Odisha is sitting idle. While States like Karnataka has received Central fund, formalities are being completed for Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh for the same. For what the State is waiting for if the ruling party is really worried about the impending drought and is thinking about the plight of the farmers.”

Terming the State government’s announcement of Rs 100 as drought assistance for per quintal of paddy in the drought hit areas of the State as eyewash, the minister said the ruling party has failed to tackle the situation completely.
However quashing the allegations, BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb asked, “Why the Centre is delaying to release funds even after a month of assessment by a Central team.”

The Odisha government has not yet made public report on drought situation in the State.