BJD govt seeking package without crop loss assessment: Oppn

Bhubaneswar: Opposition parties today accused the Naveen Patnaik government of shedding crocodile tears for distressed farmers and seeking Rs 3,500 crore special central package to tackle drought without assessing crop loss.

Attacking the ruling BJD, BJP leader and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram said it was a premature move on the part of the Chief Minister to approach the Centre for assistance in a desperate bid to cover up his government’s failure to mitigate farmers’ plight and suicide.

Holding that the state government approached the Centre for help without making proper assessment of crop loss, Oram said the exercise was aimed at giving an impression his government was concerned about distressed farmers.

Reacting to the demand for Rs 3,500 crore central assistance during Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi on Thursday, the BJP leader said the BJD government is simply shedding crocodile tears for farmers in view of growing resentment among distressed peasants several of whom have committed suicide.

Expressing similar views, Congress leader and former OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik said it would have been appropriate on the part of the state government to approach the Centre for assistance after proper assessment of crop loss in drought-affected areas.

The state government should ascertain the exact volume of damage before seeking central assistance, the ex-PCC chief said, adding BJD’s move raises doubts about its sincerety towards farmers.

He accused the ruling party in Odisha of doing politics over drought.

Slamming the BJD government for failing to mitigate the plight of farmers, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Prasad Harichandan charged it with being insensitive towards the sufferings of farmers who are hit hard by drought conditions in major parts of the state.

Dismissing the opposition attack, BJD spokesman Amar Satapathy said they should not politicise the issue relating to drought.

During his meeting with Jaitley, the Chief Minister mentioned that during 2015, Kharif crops were severely impacted in large parts of Odisha due to inadequate rainfall in July/August and about 5.32 lakh hectares of cropped area has suffered damage to the extent of 33 per cent or more.