Relief to farmers, Odisha govt declares 1% interest rate on crop loan

Sohela (Bargarh): Stung by the Opposition over its failure to contain the rising farmer suicide cases, the state government on Thursday announced a slew of sops for the farmer community and development of agriculture especially in Western Odisha.

Addressing the Chasi Samavesh organised by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) at Sohela in Bargarh district on Thursday, Chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced that the state government will provide drought assistance of Rs 100 per a quintal of paddy for farmers in drought-hit areas during procurement.

Besides, to bring down the loan burden on the farmers, one percent interest will be charged on crop loans for small farmers, he said while assuring that there would be no shortage of funds for development of agriculture.

The Chief Minister further said that his government has decided to spend Rs 35,000 crore for development in Western Odisha in the next five years of which 80% will be earmarked for agriculture.

To ensure better irrigation facility in Bargarh district, the government has decided to set up a medium irrigation project (MIP) on river Ong at an estimated cost of Rs 1500 crore and another MIP on river Jeera at an estimated cost of Rs 300 crore. Apart from this, a mega lift irrigation project would begin within 15 days in Kalahandi district”, he informed.

Patnaik further said that his government will spend over Rs 13,000 crore to set up special feeders for irrigation and rural electrification.

“There would be no shortage of funds for development of agriculture. My government has always been giving emphasis on agriculture,” he maintained.

Coming down heavily on the Opposition parties, Patnaik said, “They should stop politicizing the farmer suicide cases. I was always with farmers, will be with farmers. Opposition is just shedding crocodile tears.”

He also attacked the Centre by saying the Union government has not sanctioned a single rupee whereas the State government has allocated Rs 1,000 crroe for the farming community.

The chief minister also told the gathering, “My government has taken the farmers’ issues seriously. I have asked party MPs and MLAs to meet farmers.”

Sources in the BJD said Patnaik is scheduled to interact with the farmers’ organisations.

Sources in the BJD said Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy, Revenue minister Bijayshree Routray and Cooperation minister Damodar Rout have remained absent at the Samavesh.

Meanwhile, police detained former Cong MLA Nihar Mahananda, Sadhu Nepak and farmers’ leader Lingaraj to prevent any untoward incident during the BJD’s farmers’ rally. This apart, BJP leader Jayanarayan Mishra and more than 100 party activists were also arrested ahead of the beginning of the rally.