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Crops ruined by pest attack, farmers set paddy fields afire in Odisha

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Bargarh/Bhubaneswar: With acres of paddy crop completely ravaged due to brown planthopper attack and government machinery indifferent to their plight, about 10-15 farmers in Kalapani panchayat of Odisha’s Bargarh district, out of despair, set their crops ablaze today.

Farmers complained that the pesticide supplied to them by the State government’s Cooperation department was of inferior quality and had failed to save their crop from the pest attack.

They said since the crop was completely ruined, there was no point in harvesting it.

“A major part of the land on which I had cultivated paddy has been ruined by brown planthoppers. I had sprayed pesticide eight times by taking loans. We have made several rounds of the Collector office to tell them about our plight but in vain. There was no other option so we set our fields on fire,” said a farmer.

“We have lost everything to these pests. We sprayed pesticide supplied by the government but it didn’t work. We don’t know how we are going to feed our children,” said another farmer.

Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout today asked the departmental Principal Secretary to send a team of experts to the affected area to conduct an inquiry and submit a report within 48 hours.

“Why only Bargarh we have received similar reports from Cuttack also. No one is able to tell what disease is affected paddy crop. So it is only experts who can tell. Therefore, I have asked the Principal Secretary to send a team of experts to the affected area and submit a report to me within 48 hours,” informed Rout talking to reporters.

“It’s being suspected that the pesticide that is being used is not meant for controlling brown planthoppers. Padmapur MLA has informed me. If this is true, I have asked the Principal Secretary to take stringent action whosoever is responsible for this,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bargarh district unit of the BJP has called for a one-hour ‘chakka jam’ tomorrow over the issue of pest attack on crops and suicide by farmers in the district.

This was announced by BJP’s Padmapur MLA Pradip Purohit this evening.

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