Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 14:
A six-member delegation of state unit BJP today met Odisha Governor SC Jamir and submitted a report prepared by its fact-finding committee that visited nine districts in the state to assess the drought-like situation in these areas.
The delegation led by its state president KV Singhdeo met Governor at Raj Bhawan here and presented a memorandum seeking his intervention into the drought-like situation arising out of scanty rainfall. The delegation submitted the fact-finding report in the form of a memorandum with six-point charter of demands to the Governor.
“The representatives of the BJP had found that the fields have developed cracks due to insufficient rainfall. The lift irrigation (LI) points are lying defunct and the government is indifferent to the problems of the farmers. It should immediately repair the defunct LI points. The district administrations are unaware of the grim situation. The locals termed the situation similar to the 1965 drought in Odisha,” state BJP vice president Pratap Sarangi said.
“We put forth our demands before the Governor to provide all possible assistance to the farmers for the Rabi crop harvesting. The agriculture loans should be waived off for this year and crop insurance should be disbursed to the affected farmers without any premium payment. Besides, we urged the Governor to direct the government to take immediate steps in this regard,” Sarangi added.
The opposition party yesterday accused the Biju Janata Dal ruled government of being a mute spectator to the situation.
“The drought situation is extremely precarious. The government was unaware of the grim situation before the visit of the BJP to the affected areas. It was BJP who brought this matter to the notice of the people. We had visited Sonepur, Bolangir, Nuapada, Bhawanipatna and Kalahandi districts where the situation is gloomy. The state government cannot create rain but it can take steps to help the distressed farmers. If the government does not take any steps, the forced migration would continue,” senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra alleged.
The leaders holding dead paddy saplings and posters in hand expressed displeasure over state government’s alleged inaction.
However, the BJD reacted on expected lines and rubbished the allegations.
“The BJP leaders fastened their belts ahead of the visit of Rahul Gandhi. This is nothing but a political gimmick to hoodwink the farmers and people of Odisha. The government was aware of the situation and had held meeting in May last. Chief Minister had chaired the natural calamity meeting and the drought situation is reviewed as per the disaster management code. The code was amended by the Centre in 2005. Drought is not declared like that. The top BJP leaders should do their homework properly,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said.
Earlier, the team had visited 12 blocks in five districts in western Odisha and had met around 10, 000 affected farmers.
Notably, the weatherman had predicted below normal rainfall in 16 districts in the state this monsoon. Around nine districts in the state have received deficit rainfall this season of which the saffron party leaders had visited five districts where threat of drought is looming large.
Later in the day, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held a meeting at the secretariat here to review drought situation in the state. The government had sought report from the concerned district collectors where rain has played truant affecting the kharif crop. Chief Secretary GC Pati, Development Commissioner UN Behera, Agriculture secretary and special relief commissioner (SRC) participated in the meeting.