Bargarh/Bhubaneswar, Dec 27:
Bowing to demands from various quarters, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday announced a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy for farmers affected by Cyclone Phailin and the subsequent floods in October this year.
“Farmers will get a special assistance of Rs 100 per quintal, over and above the minimum support price of paddy,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said at a public meeting in Baragarh.
As a ‘farmers’ government’, we considered the plight of the farmers sympathetically and made this decision to help the peasants affected by the twin calamities,” Patnaik said. The farmers would get the benefit of special assistance till the end of Kharif season, he said.
The state is likely to bear an estimated additional expenditure of Rs 150 crore on this score, a senior official said in Bbhubaneswar adding the assistance would be given to a farmer up to 100 quintals of paddy.
Farmers disposing of more paddy would get the benefit up to 100 quintal. This apart, the government has also decided to exempt CST on paddy, which is generally two per cent, in case farmers sell their product in other states, he said.
The state government has targeted to procure about 30 lakh quintals of paddy during the ongoing Kharif season, sources said.
The decision was reportedly taken at the state cabinet meeting last night, but was not made public in view of model code of conduct currently in force for the ensuing Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation elections.
Observers say the decision of the Chief Minister to make the announcement in faraway Bargarh was also an exercise in beating the model code of conduct in the capital city.
Patnaik had held a separate meeting with BJD leaders on the subject. Earlier, a group of MLAs from western districts had sought payment of bonus on paddy.
The decision comes three days after Patnaik’s convoy was obstructed by angry farmers near the State Secretariat on December 24. At least 26 members of the Navanirman Krushak Sanagathan (NKS), were arrested on charge of obstructing the Chief Minister’s convoy.
While demanding bonus for affected farmers, the NKS activists had also demonstrated inside the Assembly during the winter session of the House.
Both Congress and BJP, however, slammed the state government for making the announcement of special assistance on paddy with an eye on the next general elections.
“Patnaik’s announcement exposes the government’s narrow political motive. It would be better if the government announces Rs 300 bonus per quintal of paddy,” Congress chief spokesman Narasingh Mishra said.
Senior BJP leader B B Harichandan also alleged that the announcement was made keeping in view the next elections.