Order judicial probe into farmer suicides in Odisha: Minister

Bhubaneswar, Dec 20 (IANS) Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday attacked the Odisha government on the state’s drought situation, demanding a judicial probe into suicides by distressed farmers.

“Instead of making it a prestige issue, the state government should admit to the death of farmers and set up a judicial probe,” Pradhan told reporters here.

The minister said Maharashtra, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh governments had already begun to compensate famers in their respective states.

He said a central team that assessed the drought situation in Odisha had submitted its report and appropriate drought assistance extended to the state once a meeting of the disaster management authority on the matter was held.

Pradhan assured of adequate compensation to Odisha farmers.

On the other hand, the ruling Biju Janata Dal accused the union government of not providing assistance to drought-hit Odisha but sanctioning packages to other similarly placed states.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party sent a central team to the state at a time when there were no problems. Now that it is the turn to pay, sincerity is missing. Shouldn’t we call it central negligence,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said.

As many as 215 blocks in 26 districts of Odisha have been declared drought-affected this year. The state government has submitted two memorandums to the Centre to seek financial assistance of Rs.2,200 crore.

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