Odisha farmers face double whammy of pest attack, drought threat

Bolangir: Fates of farmers in the western districts of Odisha are hanging in balance amid the double whammy of Chakada pest infestation and drought threat. While Bolangir is grappling with Chakada pest attack, Sundergarh and Kalahandi are staring into the eyes of drought.

In Bolangir severe pest attack has been reported in Deogaon and Gudbhela blocks.

“I had planted paddy after taking a loan but Chakada has destroyed the crops. Last year drought had damaged the crops, this year pests have ruined everything,” said Surendra Kumar Meher, a farmer from Gudbhela block.

Farmers in Bolangir had hoped to recover from last year’s drought with some places receiving adequate rainfall. However, all hopes are now lost amid severe pest attack.

Bolangir Deputy Collector, Laxmikanta Pyarelal Pradhan said “We are forming a joint team to assess the damage. Based on the survey report, the farmers will be provided compensation.”

Meanwhile farmers’ agitation has gained momentum across the State demanding drought-hit status for several areas. Till date, 5 farmers have allegedly committed suicide in the state under loan burden.

Dharmagarh farmer leader, Shiva Prasad Pradhani said “We are demanding drought-hit status for Koksara block in Kalahandi and a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for each farmer.”

Meanwhile, opposition has targeted the Odisha government alleging apathy.

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BJP Vice-President Samir Mohanty said “The government is engaged in sports while farmers are facing crisis in the state. They did not even pass the sharecroppers law to give farmers security and suicides are on the rise.”

Countering the allegations, Arun Sahoo, BJD spokesperson said “BJP only makes allegations. The administration reviews the situation and after a thorough check, decisions are taken. The government will take action after receiving reports from the district collectors.”