Odisha to bring new law to safeguard sharecroppers’ interests

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Government is likely to bring a new law in the next session of the State Assembly to safeguard the interests of sharecroppers, who are now deprived of several benefits meant for farmers, state Agriculture minister Damodar Rout said on Tuesday.

Rout told reporters that the inter-ministerial committee formed by the state government for this purpose will hold a meeting on May 29 in this connection.

The objective of the proposed legislation is to recognise and provide various benefits to farmers who actually work in the field, he said.

Sharecroppers are not entitled to get compensation in the event of crop loss, input subsidy, insurance cover, relief and other benefits under the existing law.

Claiming that the farm sector has become robust and farmers have prospered during the last 17 years of BJD rule, Rout said the per capita income of farmers climbed to Rs 4,976 from Rs 1,062 since year 2000.

On suicide by farmers, the minister said though 50 peasants took the extreme step in 2015, the exact reason behind their move was unclear.

They commit suicide generally due to mental stress, he said.

As the state surged ahead in the agriculture sector, food grain production sky-rocketed from 55 lakh metric tonnes in 2000-01 to 118 lakh metric tonnes in 2016.17, Rout said adding, paddy production for the first time has crossed 100 lakh metric tonnes.

Average food grain production in Odisha is 2,438 kg per hectare, which is higher than the national average of 2,404 kg per hectare, the minister said.

Noting that the state has been preparing a separate budget for agriculture, Rout said the allocation for farm sector has increased from Rs 8,061 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 14,9300 crore in 2017-18.

However, opposition Congress and BJP slammed the BJD government accusing it of misleading the people, particularly the farmers, by making false claims about its performance in agriculture sector.

State Congress spokesperson Sulochana Das hit out at the state government for not admitting incidents of suicide by farmers due to debt burden and crop loss and said the BJD regime should accept the fact and provide compensation to the affected.

Senior BJP leader Pradip Purohit said states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are admitting suicide by farmers due to crop loss and providing compensation, but Odisha government is betraying farmers.