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Odisha Agri Minister’s shocking statement on farmer suicides


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 23:

State Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy’s statement is all set to trigger a political whirlwind after he stated that Odisha farmers die only when the House is in session.

“Farmers are dying in Odisha when the Assembly is in session. After the session is over, are there any incident being reported? Our state is not like Tamil Nadu, our farmers live with dignity and are naïve,” state Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy said.

Sticking to his guns that no farmer committed suicide due to crop loss, he asserted that the farmers have weathered all odds in the past.

“Lakhs of people died in worst-ever famine in 1866.  After breaches in Daleighai embankment on the Devi river in Jagatsinghpur district in 1955, several hectares of land were inundated. Around 15, 000 to 20, 000 people died in the Super Cyclone in 1999. No farmer had committed suicide in these difficult times. I had announced at All Odisha Krushi Mahotsav and even in the Assembly on crop insurance. We are contemplating on their coverage,” he added.

Maharathy’s statement invited criticism from Opposition parties in the state.

“The Minister has insulted the farmers’ community. He should beg apology for his comments. Several farmers have committed suicide prior to and post commencement of Assembly sessions. The government should take measures to lessen their woes,” BJP leader Golak Prasad Mohapatra said.

Congress leader and Opposition Chief Whip in Odisha Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati also lashed out at Maharathy saying “Farmers are committing suicide in Odisha like in other states. BJP and BJD are responsible for the plight of farmers. The Minister’s statement after the Assembly session is unfortunate.”