Odisha: Ex-MP alleged farmers are on verge of ruination due to Government’s indolence

Former MP Bhabani Sankar Hota alleged that due to Government inaction and apathetic attitude farmers are on the verge of ruination due to extensive damage to both seedling and transplanted paddy plant which are attacked by an unknown kind of plant virus.
Farmers of Hirakud command area have suffered almost 100% loss. Responding to demand made by farmers and Mr Hota, District Agriculture officials requisitioned services of agricultural scientists from nearby Chiplima Agriculture College to study the phenomenon only to-day morning, after three days of the incident. “I myself talked to the district agriculture official after touring about 18 villages yesterday” said Mr Hota. More than a hundred farmers met Mr Hota and complained about the incident. Mr Hota displayed samples of seedlings to the press.

Mr Hota said that farmers have suffered loss of minimum Rs.6000/- per acre due to attack of either fungus or virus which is yet to be ascertained. There are zero prospects of getting any produce since from the primary stage the paddy plants are damaged. Farmers of Bheden, Attabira, Barpali and Bargarh Blocks suddenly found that seedlings and implanted material turned into red or deep brown colour which on the previous day totally green. Such incidents have also been reported from villages under Sonepur, Sambalpur districts.

Farmer’s backbone has been completely broken and there will be extensive loss of production and loss would be thousands of crore of rupees. As such the farmers of rain-fed area of Western Orissa have suffered immense loss due to severe drought in the Kharif season and now during the Rabi (Dalua) they are waiting for devastation. Mr. Hota demanded immediate attention from the Orissa Chief Minister to requisition services of competent agricultural scientists from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to study the phenomenon and take urgent remedial measures.

Further he demanded to energize the administrative apparatus to devote total attention to see that adequate seeds, fertilizers are made available to restart the process again within the next seven days by releasing Rupees six thousand per acre to the farmers to go for short duration paddy crop. Panchayat election may wait but not the farmers, he added.

Mr Hota has also urged the Chief Minister to constitute a scientist group to study the toxicity level of Hirakud Dam water released to fields of the farmers through canal system and amount of affluent and toxic materials deposited in the field. A study made by Sambalpur University in the 1990s observed that the mercury and lead level in the soil of Hirakud command area were beyond the permissible limit. It is also to be investigated whether due to the toxic material, for which the industries is primarily responsible, the immunity capacity of young plant has been substantially reduced facilitating attack by either fungus or a new type of virus.

Mr Hota further warned that if effective measures are not taken forthwith many farmers would be compelled to shed their lives as there is no prospect of survival due to prospect of total loss of crop.

Mr Hota has also urged the Chief Minister to constitute a scientist group to study the toxicity level of Hirakud Dam water released to fields of the farmers and amount of affluent and toxic materials deposited in the field. A study made by Sambalpur University in the 1990s observed that the mercury and lead level in the soil of Hirakud command area were beyond the permissible limit. It is also to be investigated whether due to the toxic material, for which the industries is primarily responsible, the immunity capacity of young plant has been substantially reduced facilitating attack by either fungus or a new type of virus.

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