Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has asked leaders of his Biju Janata Dal to meet farmers and solve their problems, amid a spate of suicides across the drought-hit state and a mounting attack by opposition parties on the state government over the issue.
“It is our primary moral responsibility to back our farmers to face the drought during the kharif season. Go to the grassroots, acquaint yourself with the problems of the farmers and try to solve their problems,” Patnaik told party leaders in a letter on Thursday.
On Thursday, at least four farmers killed themselves.
The chief minister asked the leaders to convey the steps taken by the government for their welfare in view of a drought in the state. He told them to meet the farmer and interact with officials like sub-collectors, block development officers and tehsildars to discuss their problems and seek solutions.
Patnaik said it was unfortunate that while the government is making all efforts to alleviate the problems of the farmers through different plans and programmes, the opposition parties are indulging in “cheap politics” over farmers’ suicide.
Odisha’s two main opposition parties -- the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- have launched a scathing attack on the state government for its alleged insensitivity towards farmers’ death and farm crisis. Patnaik’s ministers are facing protests and black flags during their visits to districts.
On Friday, the Congress party held “save farmer” demonstrations in all the 314 blocks of the state, while the BJP has demanded an inquiry into the farmers’ suicide by a judicial magistrate.
More than 100 blocks in 21 of 30 districts have been hit by drought during kharif season in the state. Over 65 farmers have reportedly killed themselves so far in the state hit by drought. The state government has confirmed 50 such deaths.
Family members and villagers alleged they have committed suicide due to crop loss and loan burden. But the district collectors’ report to the government has ruled out farm crisis as a reason behind their deaths.
The state government has announced a package of Rs 1000 crore that includes subsidies for agricultural inputs, fresh loans, motor pumps and tuition fee waivers for students in drought-affected areas. The government has also extended a fresh loan for rabi crop to debt-ridden farmers.