Odisha drought: Central team’s second visit in December

Bhubaneswar: After its first visit in October in the backdrop of drought-like situation in Odisha, a Central team formed by Union Agriculture Ministry will make its second tour to the State to assess the situation.

“Following our memorandum (interim) on drought, the Agriculture Ministry has constituted an Inter-Ministerial Central team of nine members who will visit Odisha next week or the week following that,” Special Relief Commissioner PK Mohapatra told media persons.

“We have prepared a final draft on drought and will present it to them,” the official stated.

Mentioning in the memorandum that 8,82,720 hectares of land spread over 173 blocks in 25 districts have been affected in the drought, the State government has sought drought assistance of Rs 1,687 crore from the Centre.

Meanwhile, though the Centre had pulled up the Odisha government for failing to submit its report on drought in time, the latter came down heavily on the Union government for delaying drought relief package even after a Central team’s visit a month ago.

And the Centre-State tug-o-war has given enough fodder for the regional parties, both ruling and Opposition for a political bickering.

“Is the Centre not doing politics? If a second team is visiting Odisha, then where is the first team’s report?” asked BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash.

“Are we begging? When it (Centre) can announce packages for other states like Maharashtra and Karnataka, why Odisha is being continuously ignored,” rued he.

The BJP, already in a back foot in the issue, however rejected the allegations.

“The Centre after a complete assessment of drought situation will announce a package for the State,” the saffron party’s State head KV Singhdeo said.