Odisha to spend Rs 1000 cr to mitigate drought situation

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government will spend Rs 1000 cr to mitigate the drought situation in the state.

Making an announcement to this effect on Wednesday, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said the state government will take all out efforts towards drought mitigation and protection of interest of farmers.

Giving details of the drought package, he said the state government would provide agriculture input subsidy to small and marginal farmers who have sustained crop loss of 33% and above amounting to Rs 6,800 per hectare of land in rainfed/non-irrigated areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare of land in areas under assured irrigation.

Besides, agriculture input subsidy will also be provided to farmer other than small and marginal farmers at the same rates subject to a ceiling of two hectare per framer. For perennial crops financial assistance of Rs 18,000 per hectare will be provided. The assistance shall be provided to the actual cultivators.

Farmers affected by drought in khariff will be provided fresh finance for Rabi cultivation during the current Rabi season which has commenced from October 1 this year. This could be to the tune of 4500 crore.

Stating that the state government is aware of the present drought situation and is committed to protect the interest of farmers, Patnaik said short term khariff loans will be converted to medium term loans in drought affected areas in cases of 50% and above crop damage.

The rate of interest of short term loans will be applicable for converted medium term loans. This shall be done through interest subvention of 227.38 crores over a period of 3 years for bringing down the interest rate to 5% for the crop loans availed by the farmers, he pointed out.

He also said the district administration shall keep a close watch on money lenders and other unscrupulous elements causing financial hardship to the farmers. Police will initiate stern action against such elements under the Odisha Money Lenders Act and various sections of the CrPC. The government has asked the SPs to be proactive while the DIGs have been instructed to conduct review on this in regular intervals.

Patnaik said 50% remission in respect of cess on land revenue will be given to farmers where the crop loss is 33% or more. Collection of the remaining amount will be deferred to the next financial year without levying any interest.

“Besides, the state government has also decided to waive tuition fees and examination fees in government and aided schools and colleges in drought affected areas”, he added.

He further said the Odisha Agro-Industries Corporation (OAIC) would provide 40,000 pump sets with 50% subsidy to the framers with priority to the rainfed areas. Besides, availability of pump sets in different Agro Service Centres shall be publicised to enable the farmers to hire the same to save their standing crops.

This apart, the Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation (OLIC) shall take immediate steps to repair the defunct LI Points. The Energy department shall energise the LI points with immediate effect while necessary arrangement shall be made to provide diesel generator sets with submersible pump sets to the newly installed deep bore wells where supply of electricity is not possible at present. The district level committee constituted to revive defunct LI Points should start the work immediately and complete the same by December 31.

The chief minister also informed that steps have been taken to energise deep bore wells of 13,000 farmers who will receive four lakh pulse mini kits, one lakh oilseed mini kits and five lakh vegetable mini kits for the Rabi programme.

The Panchayati Raj department would take up MGNREGA works to set up water harvesting structures/de-silting of field channels, diversion weirs, etc.

“My government will also provide 50 days of additional work over and above the 150 days announced by the Centre in drought affected areas”, Patnaik said.

To further lessen the burden of the drought-hit farmers, he said food assistance of 1 kg per adult and 500 gram per child shall be provided up to 60 days, as assessed by the district collectors.

The chief minister also said that the state government would request the Centre to provide interest incentive at 3% for MCT loans at par with crop loans for prompt paying farmers which will help the farmers in making repayment at 5% rate of interest.

He hoped that the state government, which had undertaken exemplary works for the protection of interest of farmers during the drought in 2010 and 2011, will continue to work in a dedicated manner to mitigate the difficulties experienced at present by the farmers in the drought affected areas of the state.