Have faith in government, Odisha minister tells drought-hit farmers

Bhubaneswar, Oct 24 (IANS) In the wake of suicides by Odisha farmers due to crop loss and debt burden, Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy on Saturday asked them to refrain from such an extreme step and said the state government was keeping a close watch on the drought situation.

The state government may announce an additional package for drought-hit farmers in the state once the agriculture department submitted a final report on the drought situation by November first week, the minister said.

He also appealed to the farmers to have faith in the government.

“I appeal to all farmers to have patience and trust in the Navin Patnaik government and not commit suicide. The state government will announce an additional package, if needed,” Maharathy said during a tour to drought-hit areas in Khurdha district.

The government has identified 123 blocks in 16 districts as drought-affected while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced a drought assistance of Rs.1,000 crore for the farming community.

The drought assistance was to be given to farmers facing crop loss of 33 percent and above.

During a meeting with union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday, Patnaik urged for Rs.3,500 crore special assistance for drought-hit areas in Odisha.

Meanwhile, Odisha Congress president Prasad Harichandan on Saturday attacked the state government, stating that its officials and ministers were yet to visit affected areas.

He asked the chief minister and agriculture minister to meet the family members of the deceased farmers.

Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram said the government was shedding crocodile tears before the Centre for assistance only to save its image in the wake of farmer suicides in the state.

Three farmers died on Saturday after they consumed poison due to alleged loan burden and crop loss.

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