Odisha unveils contingency plan with drought-like situation in 213 of 314 blocks
Odisha agriculture minister Arun Sahoo told the state assembly that contingency plans were being implemented to help farmers, following deficient rainfall in 213 of the 314 blocks in Odisha this monsoon.
Sahoo said the pump sets for irrigation have been ordered for areas with low rainfall and the district magistrates (DMs) have been instructed to keep a close eye on the situation.
“Odisha has experienced drought 8 times in the last 20 years. Of 6.196 million hectares of farmlands that we targeted, farmers have been able to grow various crops in 5.763 million hectares due to lack of adequate rainwater. But we are prepared to tackle a possible drought,” Sahoo said in assembly while replying to an adjournment motion.
He said a contingency plan including water supply through canals, distribution of seeds and mini-kits for vegetable farming was being put in motion along with execution of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme works to ensure continued means of sustenance.
Sahoo said till September 1, the state recorded only 666 mm of rainfall, which is 29 % less than normal. 26 districts in the state barring Khordha, Jagatsinghpur, Koraput and Malkangiri have recorded deficient rainfall of 20% or above. Jajpur was the worst affected with 54% less rainfall. Though paddy crop was affected due to the prolonged dry spell, non-paddy crop might not be affected, he said.
However, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and the opposition chief whip Mohan Majhi alleged the state had failed drought-stricken farmers and demanded a special package and official declaration of drought in the state.
“The state government cannot shy away from its duties by putting the blame on nature. The government has done nothing to alleviate the plight of the farmers in this time of drought. Lift irrigation points are lying defunct in the state. While the water bodies have dried up, the government has completely failed in irrigating the farm lands,” said Majhi.