Rs 35,000 crore in packages for drought-hit Odisha districts

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Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday announced a development package of Rs 35,000 crore for the districts in western parts hit by drought and a spate of suicide by farmers.

“The fund will be spent over a period of five years, 80% of it on developing farm sector. Besides, the state government will provide Rs 100 per a quintal of paddy to farmers during procurement in drought hit areas,” chief minister Patnaik announced at a farmers’ rally at Sohela in Bargarh district.

Patnaik accused the opposition parties of “shedding crocodile tears” over farmers’ suicide and unnecessarily politicizing the issue. The ruling BJD organised the rally as a show of strength after being stung by scathing criticism from opposition parties that the government was being insensitive to rising suicides by farmers across the state.

“It is clearly a BJD convention, not farmers’ rally. The government is trying to deflect attention from the issue instead of going deep into the farm crisis,” former Congress MP Pradeep Majhi said.

More than a hundred activists of Congress, BJP and farmers’ organizations were arrested by police ahead of the rally in which three key ministers relating to farm sector – agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy, revenue minister Bijayshree Routray and cooperative minister Damodar Rout – were conspicuous by their absence. BJD sources said Patnaik barred the three ministers, who had provided fodder to opposition attack with their alleged controversial statements on farmers’ suicide, from attending the rally.

Over 100 blocks in 21 of 30 districts of the state have been hit by drought in kharif in the state.

Raining sops

Rs 11,228 crore allotted for rice for 58 lakh BPL families

Rs 340 crore for free bicycle for 4.5 lakh girls and BPL boys

Rs 500 crore marked for pregnant and lactating women under Mamata scheme

Rs 100 crore for blankets and umbrellas to elderly, widow and disabled persons.

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