Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday sought special category status for the state while announcing a plan to bring a holistic Odisha Food Security Act "very soon" for vulnerable sections of the society, besides implementing the National Food Security Act.
"We have been historically neglected for our just demands. Odisha faces maximum number of natural disasters. Huge resources are required to rebuild lives and livelihood of people. It is in this backdrop that Odisha deserves special category status," Patnaik said in the Assembly.
The chief minister was replying to the debate on motion of thanks to the Governor's address.
Stating that the government would do everything to turn Odisha into a peaceful, prosperous and progressive state, Patnaik said, "We are going to introduce a holistic Odisha Food Security Act very shortly."
It would lay emphasis on agriculture production, marketing and equitable distribution of foodgrains to all with focus on tribals, slum dwellers and vulnerable sections of the society he said, adding, to make the coverage inclusive and holistic, indicators reflecting the socio-economic conditions of a family would be introduced.
To stop pilferage and ensure complete transparency in distribution of entitlements to deserving families, the government would digitise the ration cards, Patnaik said.
The government is also taking a very proactive role to ensure proper implementation of the National Food Security Act in the state, the chief minister said.
To raise productivity by way of creating additional irrigation potential to the tune of 10 lakh hectares within the next five years, a sum of Rs 5,000 crore would be spent each year on major, medium and small irrigation projects, deep bore wells, mega lift irrigation projects and restoration of defunct lift irrigation points, he said.
"Easy access to quality seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and farm mechanisation along with agricultural credit with the lowest percentage of interest will be other key elements of our endeavour," Patnaik said.
Stating that government is extending short term farm credit at the lowest ever interest rate of two per cent to farmers through the State Cooperative Bank and commercial banks, he said there is a proposal to create an interest free, short term corpus fund of Rs 100 crore to ease procurement and supply of chemical fertilisers to farmers.
Another Rs 100 crore of interest free corpus fund is also to be made available to agencies to enable them to procure and pre-position quality seeds at desired locations well ahead of sowing season, he said.