IANS

Odisha forms ministerial panel as farmers march to state capital

Bhubaneswar, Nov 5 (IANS) The Odisha government on Monday formed an inter-ministerial committee to look into the demands of farmers, who marched to the state capital demanding “price, prestige and pension”.

The three-member committee will be headed by Finance Minister Shashi Bhusan Behera while Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy and Cooperation Minister Surya Narayan Patro are the other members.

“We urge the farmers to come forward for a discussion with the state government. We are ready to discuss the demands of the farmers,” said the Finance Minister.

The state government said it would form the ministerial committee to pacify the agitating farmers who congregated under the aegis of Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS) in large numbers at the PMG Square in the state capital.

Despite the imposition of Sec 144 (prohibitory orders) in Tamando area on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, hundreds of farmers managed to break the police cordon and entered the state capital to join the congregation.

The farmers were stopped by the police at various places to foil their protest. Police took agitating farmers into preventive custody while they were trying to break cordon near Khandagiri and Hanspal.

“Formation of the inter-ministerial committee is an attempt to cheat us. The committee doesn’t mention anything about pension to farmers. If farmers are barred from entering Bhubaneswar, politicians too will not be allowed to enter our villages,” said NNKS convenor Akshaya Kumar.

State unit president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Basant Panda said the state government is hoodwinking farmers repeatedly with false promises.

“Where is the law for sharecroppers? The potato mission has failed. There is no cold storage for the farmers. Although farmers are staging agitation in a democratic manner, efforts are being made to throttle their voice,” alleged Panda.

“Odisha is an agrarian state. Most of our population is dependent on agriculture. But the sad part is the income of our farmers is one of the lowest in the country,” said Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik.

He said 3,700 farmers have committed suicides during the tenure of the BJD government due to debt.

The ruling BJD first tried to blame the farmers for this by saying that family disputes and liquor consumption were the cause of suicides, but later its own party members contradicted the claim, Patnaik said.

–IANS
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