Frantic efforts of the state government to try and appease the farmers including announcing roll out of the direct benefit transfer to deposit subsidy amounts to bank accounts of farmers and solving the gunny bags related problem during procurement operations failed to impress peasants.
The Naba Nirman Krushak Sangh, a farmers body, which has been on a hunger strike in front of the Assembly since eight days, said the main demand – government should admit crop loss and debt related farmer suicides in the state, provide adequate ex gratia and given pension to farmers remain unfulfilled.
More than 200 farmers have committed suicide due to the drought and at least 90 per cent of the suicides are crop related or debt related, said the NKS.
Shockingly the state government continues to live in denial and attributes the suicides to reasons other than crop loss. It is paying lip service to the farmers like the chief minister Naveen Patnaik not celebrating Holi festival due to drought, remarked the NKS leaders.
On the direct benefit transfer of subsidies as far as seed purchase is concerned, the NKS leader Akshya Kumar said the government wants to launch it next month but it does not hold any meaning because sharecroppers will not be covered nor have they been identified as yet.
The proposal is that farmers will have to register themselves with the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies or Large Area Multi Purpose Society. The farmers will then be provided Rs.1000 subsidy on purchase of one quintal of seeds and this subsidy amount will be deposited in their bank accounts.
The NKS leaders pointed out that many farmers do not have bank accounts and there are as many as 4000 panchayats which do not have banks.
On their recently held meeting with the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Das Burma, the NKS leaders said the issue of gunny bags has been resolved, but the major demands remain unfulfilled.
The government has informed us that another meeting will be held on 26 March to discuss the charter of demands submitted by NKS. We are on a satyagraha and we want the Naveen Patnaik government to admit farmers suicide due to crop loss and debt burden, said the NKS.
There is no social security allowance for farmers, hence the government should provide Rs 5000 to farmers under a social security scheme. The NKS has informed the government that it will launch a jail bharao agitation on 29 March if the government failed to fulfill these demands.
The NKS also pointed out at the findings of the CAG , ( report was tabled in the Assembly two days ago) which said the state government&’s failure to assess crop yields in calamity hit areas in time and delay in reports had deprived farmers of timely compensation and made loan repayment difficult.