Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sohela, Nov 19:
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today announced a special package of Rs 35, 000 crore for the farmers of western Odisha during the ‘Chasi Samabesh’ at Sohela in Bargarh district.
While addressing the farmers’convention, Patnaik said: “Rs 35, 000 crore will be spent over the next five years on the development of western Odisha. Of this, 80 percent will be utilized towards development of agriculture. Besides, Rs 8000 crore will be pumped in for irrigation, Rs 13, 000 crore towards rural electrification and Rs 15, 000 crore for development of irrigation facilities in Bargarh district.”
Patnaik also announced two medium irrigation projects for Bargarh district where one will come up on river Ong at an estimated cost of Rs 1500 crore while another will be on river Jeera at the cost of Rs 300 crore.
Stressing that the BJD had promised in the election manifesto to provide agricultural loans at reduced rates, the chief minister said: “Farm loan will be extended to the farmers at one percent annual rate of interest.”
A drought assistance of Rs 100 per quintal will be given to the farmers in the drought-hit districts during procurement of paddy. The state government would bear the expenses from its coffer, he said.
The BJD president lashed out at the Centre for not granting special category status to Odisha.
“Despite our repeated demands, the Centre has been ignoring our demand of special category status to Odisha. We would continue our fight against Centre’s neglect,” Patnaik added
The leader of the regional party utilized the opportunity to attack the Centre for its alleged failure to provide succour to the affected farmers. Besides, he also criticised the principal opposition parties in the state.
“We believe in work and not hollow claims. They are organising press conferences and shedding crorodile tears. They are politicising the farmers’ deaths. We are with the farmers and will always be with them.”
Reacting to Naveen Patnaik’s jibe at opposition parties, former Congress MP Pradeep Majhi said,” it was not a farmers’ convention, it was a party meeting. It was a congregation of party leaders from 10 western Odisha districts.”
Speaking on similar lines, BJP leader Pratap Sarangi said,” it was ‘BJD Samavesh’, not ‘Chasi Samavesh.’
Ministers, parliamentarians, legislators and senior party leaders including–AU Singhdeo, Sanjay Das Burma, Pranab Prakash Das, Prasanna Acharya, Kalikesh Singhdeo, Suryanarayan Patro, Pradeep Amat, Nagendra Pradhan, Rohit Pujari, Snehangini Chhuria, Puspendra Singh Deo, Debi Prasad Mishra shared the dais with BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik.
However, Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathi, Revenue Minister Bijayshree Routray and Cooperation Minister Dr Damodar Rout skipped the convention due to unknown reasons. The trio was in news in the recent past for their controversial remarks on farmer suicides in the state.
Ahead of the farmers’ congregation, former Congress legislators Sadhu Nepak and Nihar Mahananda were detained. Farmers’ leader Lingaraj was detained at Bargarh police station. Besides, BJP leader Jaynarayan Mishra and over 100 party leaders were taken into preventive custody.