Odisha CM announces steps to tackle drought in state

Bhubaneswar, Nov 19 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday announced a string of measures to tackle drought in the state, including agricultural loan at one percent rate of interest and an additional assistance of Rs.100 per quintal during paddy procurement in kharif season.

The chief minister flayed the central government for allegedly not releasing any money for drought assistance while the Odisha government has sanctioned Rs.1,000 crore to deal with the drought.

He said Rs.35,000 crore would be spent on the development of western Odisha in the next five years, of which 80 percent funds have been earmarked for agricultural development.

“As much as Rs.8,000 crore of the total amount will be spent exclusively on irrigation purpose,” the chief minister said.

The government announced loan assistance at one percent interest to medium, small and marginal farmers.

Patnaik’s announcement came at a farmers’ convention held by the ruling Biju Janata Dal at Sohela in Bargarh district of western Odisha.

He said there would be no shortage of funds for development of agriculture in the state, adding that Odisha was awarded for excellence in farm output for several years for which the credit goes to industrious farmers.

“My government has taken farmers’ issue seriously. I have asked party parliamentarians, legislators and other leaders to meet farmers and address their concerns,” Patnaik said.

The chief minister took a potshot at the opposition for “shedding crocodile tears” and criticising his government on farmer issues at press conferences “to hog media coverage”.

“My government believes in deeds, not in words. But the opposition only resorts to words and rhetoric, holding only press conferences and holding padayatras (marches) before TV cameras,” Patnaik said and asked the opposition to stop politicising the farmer issues.

“Odisha faces natural calamities every two years. It faced natural calamities like Phailin, Hudhud, drought and untimely rain in the last five years. While the state has been bearing huge losses, the Centre has ignored our demand for special category status,” Patnaik said.

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