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Cong holds Patnaik responsible for drought in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for the death of farmers allegedly due to crop loss and debt burden in Odisha, Opposition Congress today said the drought situation could have been avoided had the state government fulfilled its promises.

“I hold the chief minister, who is also the Water Resources minister, responsible for the death of 141 farmers who committed suicide due to the drought,” Leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra said while participating in a debate on the demand of water resources department.

Justifying his allegation, Mishra pointed out that the state government headed by Patnaik in 2006 had promised to ensure 35 per cent of irrigation in each block of the state within five years.

“Again this government in 2008 announced that 35 per cent land of each village will be irrigated. However, none of the promises have been fulfilled,” he said.

“Had the government’s promises been met, there would have been no drought in Odisha which forced the farmers to commit suicide over crop loss and debt trap,” Mishra said.

The Congress leader alleged that this government lacked sincerity in improving irrigation facilities which is lifeline for farmers. “I doubt completion of any irrigation project in near future as the state government has not met the required legal formalities. They have not met the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013,” Mishra said.

Mishra also countered Patnaik’s yesterday’s statement where the later had claimed that his govenrment believed in hard work.

“We don’t stage manage things to hoodwink the people. Four crore people of Odisha for the last 15 years have experienced our commitment and sincerity in fulfilling our promises. That is why they have blessed us to serve them for four consecutive times,” Patnaik had said.

“Is it the hard work that none of your promises fulfilled even after five years. Who is in fact hoodwinking the people,” Mishra asked adding that unless irrigation facilities are not improved, the farmers will suffer.
Dubbing the state government’s promises as “false,” Mishra also blamed the state government for the Polavaram project of Andhra Pradesh government. “Let they (Andhra Pradesh) prosper, but we should not suffer,” Mishra said adding that the state government has no information on the Polavaram project.

“The state government has no data on how many villages will be affected or the area to be submerged due to backwater of Polavaram dam. There is no point in moving the Supreme Court without having proper home work,” Mishra said.

BJP member K V Singh Deo also blamed the chief minister for poor irrigation facilities in the state. Even though the chief minister is in charge of the water resources department, no major irrigation project is completed in 15 years time, Singhdeo said adding that the state government should opposition to confidence while opposing the Polavarm project.

Singhdeo said the House Committee on Polavaram has not yet met the prime minister and lodge Odisha’s complaint.

Ruling BJD member Prafulla Samal, however, said that 33.12 lakh hectare of land in Odisha is now getting irrigation facilities against 1.83 lakh hectare land get water during Independence.

Replying to the debate on behalf of the chief minister, Parliamentary Affairs minister B K Arukha said: “The department has taken up proactive measures for creation of irrigation potential in the state and started many schemes like mega lift irrigation project construction programme, deep borewell construction programme, check dam construction programme and canal lining and system rehabilitation programe during the last five years for accelerating irrigation development in the state.