Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 12:
Accusing BJD led Odisha Government of attempting to suppress cases of farmer suicides; state unit of BJP today demanded a judicial inquiry into the death allegations.
Addressing a press conference in Bhubaneswar, senior BJP leader Biswa Bhusan Harichandan today questioned the authenticity of drought reports submitted by district collectors to the State Government. Besides, it demanded waiver of agricultural loans, compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased farmer and details of the banks and other organisations that facilitated the loans.
“The state is going through a severe drought crisis and instances of farmer suicide are spiraling. Even though the State Government claims to have received only 48 reports pertaining to farmer suicide, private agencies claim the number to be higher than 90. Never before in Odisha farmers committed suicide at this rate,” said Harichandan.
“The BJP wants to ask the government, if they have any policy to contain farmer suicide. Also, we would like to know if they have any policy regarding rehabilitation of the dependents of the deceased farmers. The government and its collectors are trying to suppress such a grave humanitarian crisis. We demand a high level judicial probe by a judge of High Court to find out if there really have been farmer suicides in the state. Besides, the role of government and its collectors need to be explored,” he added.
State BJP President KV Singhdeo also pulled up the government over the drought situation.
“Had the government accepted that farmers have committed suicide, they would have sent a report to the Union Government. They have not done so. The Union Government has advised the state government to spend the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) initially and has also asked to send a detailed breakup of the Rs 3500 crore help that the Chief Minister demanded in his meeting with Finance Minister,” said Singhdeo.
“The Union Government never denied any kind of support. It is the Agriculture Minister of the state who questioned the visit of the central team to the drought affected areas. The State Government is contradicting itself. It knows no further than blaming the centre,” he added.
Ruling BJD, as usual, refuted the charges made by BJP.
“I appreciate the BJP’s concern on farmers’ suicide issue, but I would like to assure you that the State Government is doing its job with sincerity. It has taken enough steps to protect the interests of farmers in the past one month. The opposition should not politicize the issue,” said BJD Spokesperson Sashi Bhusan Behera.