Concerned over farmer suicide incidents, the Odisha government today said it was planning to insure life of all farmers even as the Opposition Congress and BJP staged a walkout in the assembly demanding constitution of a House Committee to probe agrarian deaths. “The state government is worried over the farmer suicide incidents. However, the cause of farmers suicide in Odisha was not related to agricultural activities, but for the some other reasons,” Agriculture minister Pradip Kumar Maharathy said while replying a special debate on the farmer suicide cases.
The Odisha Assembly, which remained paralysed for four consecutive days, today become normal after Speaker Niranjan Pujari allowed a debate on an adjournment notice on the farmers suicide subject. However, the opposition demanded a special debate on farmers suicide as it was very important matter concerning public. Rejecting the opposition allegation that the farmers committed suicide due to crop failure and the debt burden, Maharathy said: “Odisha farmers have all along shown courage. They cannot commit suicide. The farmers of Odisha did not commit suicide even during the infamous famine in 1866 and also after the 1999 super cyclone and 1982 floods when they had lost everything.”
In reply to the opposition demand that the deceased farmers family be given compensation as given by the Karnataka government, Maharathy said that it may not be good for the farmers family to get compensation. “Rather, we are thinking to insure life of all farmers in the state. The person who dies will automatically get the insured money,” Maharathy said.
As the minister did not concede to the opposition demand of setting up a House Committee to probe into the allegation of crop loss and debt burden as cause of farmers suicide in the state, the Opposition members of both Congress and BJP led by Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra walked out of the House.
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Mishra and other opposition members refused to admit the minister’s version that the farmers deaths have no way connected to agricultural activities. “We do not accept the government sponsored joint investigation of district collectors and SPs on farmer suicide cases. The members of the assembly should probe the matter to ascertain truth behind farmer’s suicide cases,” said Congress chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati and BJP member Pradeep Purohit.
The Congress members also strongly criticised the BJD government for not being able to convince the Centre for raising the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy.
Maharathy also said that though the BJP led central government raised MSP for wheat, cotton and sugar cane, it is yet to consider the case of paddy. “I will take up the matter with the Union Agriculture Minister who is scheduled to visit Odisha on April 1,” Maharathy said. Maharathy said that so far five farmers have committed suicide in 2017. “This is unfortunate that farmers commit suicide in the state. We are worried over the incidents. But, none of the five farmer death cases received so far in 2017 were due to crop failure or loan burden,” Maharathy informed the House.
He said farmer suicide cases were reported from the districts of Bargarh, Nabarangpur, Balasore, Boudh and Ganjam. The district collectors and SPs have undertaken joint investigation into all such cases and found that the farmers died for some other reason, the minister said. Regarding Bargarh district case, the minister said, “Farmer Hadu Bagarti committed suicide not for the crop failure. The reason could be something else”. Earlier, the minister in a statement in the assembly on March 4, had said that Hadu Bagarti committed suicide following a quarrel with his wife.
Earlier, the House during the question hour witnessed uproar over farmer suicide incidents as BJP members created ruckus. The House was adjourned for one hour till 11.34 AM. The BJP members demanded a House Committee to probe farmer suicide case and were seen wearing black gowns