Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the Padampur bypoll heat intensifies with declaration of candidates, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) are locked in a pitched battle over farmers’ issue.

While the BJP alleged the State government is insensitive to farmers’ demands in a drought hit western Odisha, the BJD countered them by raking the delay in payment of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) money to numerous farmers in the state.

As it turned out, following Centre’s direction to States to claim farmer insurance money as soon as possible on Tuesday, the State government wasted no time and announced input subsidy of Rs 200 Cr for the farmers.

According to the government data, Kharif crops in 64 blocks out of 12 districts were affected in the drought of 2021. As per reports, about 2,63560 hectares of crop land in 64 blocks and 15 ULBs of 12 districts took a hit and suffered crop loss of 33 percent and above.

A statement from the Office of the Chief Minister read, “The Collectors of the affected districts have been directed to submit the requirement of funds to SRC and appropriate steps will be taken for immediate disbursement of assistance.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the SRC had sought crop damage report on October 11, 2021. But the State government had not provided input subsidy yet. The government was so adamant not to give input subsidy that in a written statement in Odisha Assembly, the government had said that no drought has been declared for Kharif crops in the State.

So, a sudden announcement of input subsidy for the farmers has met with concerns linking it with Padampur bypolls.

A farmer, Ajit Satapathy said, “The farmers would have been benefited had the input subsidy been given earlier, when the farmers were struggling in the aftermath of drought. This announcement seems to have been made to influence voters in Padampur bypolls.”

Slamming the State government, BJP State General Secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan said, “Given the time of the year, the mandis should have been opened by now. The farmers do not know where to store the paddy after harvesting. The Odisha government runs on the mercy of millers. This is the height of negligence to the farmers of Western Odisha.”

BJP’s Odisha Chief, Sameer Mohanty said, “The State government delays providing input subsidy every year discriminating between farmers. Not only this, the State delays in providing crop cutting report and damage assessment reports to the Centre as well, making it hard for the Centre to provide insurance claim money.”

Refuting the allegations, BJD MP, Sasmit Patra Said, “State government doesn’t have anything to do in Fasal Bima Yojana. The Centre decides the sum assured and asks the insurer to disburse the same.”