As Odisha farmers rally, CM says committed to their welfare

Bhubaneswar, Feb 18 (IANS) Even as Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Thursday that his government was committed to the welfare of farmers, thousands of peasants rallied here to demand remunerative prices for farm produce and pension.

Rallying under the banner of Navanirman Krushak Sangathan (NKS), the farmers took out a huge march in Bhubaneswar to demand monthly ‘secured sustenance allowance’. They had embarked on a 30-km walk from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

They threatened to resort to ‘jail bharo’ agitation on March 18 as their talks with the state government have failed to break a deadlock over their demands.

“Farmers are committing suicide in the state after facing crop losses due to drought. Besides, agriculture has become non-remunerative. So, the farmers’ interests should be protected by ensuring monthly allowance of Rs.5,000 to each farmer so that their families do not die of starvation,” said NKS president Akshaya Kumar.

The NKS demanded adequate compensation for families of farmers who committed suicide.

On the other hand, Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Dasburma said that the demands of farmers would be discussed at the revenue divisional committee level.

“The state government has allocated Rs.35,000 crore package, including Rs.8,000 crore for irrigation in western Odisha. Besides, the government is to provide health insurance to 60 lakh farmers and loans at low interest rate,” the chief minister said in a meeting in western Odisha.

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