Orissa: Cong walkout over declaration of drought

Congress today walked out of the Assembly here even as the state government assured to take appropriate steps after getting crop cutting report.

Bhubaneswar: Demanding declaration of the
dry spell in some districts as drought and a white paper on
the situation, Opposition Congress today walked out of the
Assembly here even as the state government assured to take
appropriate steps after getting crop cutting report from
collectors.

The issue relating to the dry spell condition was
discussed through an adjournment motion moved by the Congress.
"While farmers are commiting suicide due to crop loss
in drought-affected districts, the state government has been
delaying implementation of the relief code meant to help the
people in distress," Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh of
Congress said before leading the walkout.

Though the government was aware of the situation in
certain districts, it should declare the calamity as drought
without waiting for the crop cutting report, Congress chief
whip Prasad Harichandan said alleging that one Laxman Jagat
(28) under Sinapalli block of Nuapada district had already
died of starvation.

"There is no point in declaring drought after death of
people in starvation," Harichandan said adding that chief
minister Naveen Patnaik had already held two review meetings
and the government was armed with reports of the eye
estimation survey on crop loss.
BJP legislature party leader KV Singhdeo aid that the
farmer suicide cases would increase if the government further
delayed declaring certain districts as drought hit.

The ruling BJD members also admitted that the drought
condition had affected the poor in about 16 of the 30
districts.

Replying to the debate, revenue and disaster minister
SN Patro informed the house that the government had already
asked all the collectors to submit crop cutting report by
January 15.

"As per the relief code, the government can only
declare certain area as drought-hit after getting crop cutting
reports," the minister said.

Stating that the dry spell prevailed in 16 districts
due to inadequate rainfall in July and August, the minister
said normal rainfall was experienced in June.

"The collectors have already submitted eye estimation
survey report on the crop loss. This indicated that there had
been crop loss above 50 per cent in 16 districts," the
minister said.

Claiming that the government was not sittng idle, the
minister said that the Chief minister had already directed the
district collectors to repair all lift irrigation points,
supply subsidised seeds to farmers and allow authorities to
create cross bundhs over rivers, nullahs and springs for
facilitating irrigation, the minister said.

The minister assured the house that the government
would not hesitate to declare districts as drought-hit where
crop loss was 50 per cent or above that.

The districts which had been identified as drought
affected as per the eye estimation survey report were: Angul,
Bargarh, Bhadrak, Bolangir, Boudh, Cuttack, Deogarh, Ganjam,
Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur,
Nayagarh, Nuapada and Subarnapur.

While the eye estimation survey report of the state
government claimed that there was drought in 16 districts, a
report prepared by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC)
in October claimed that there was "mild" crop loss in 11
districts while "moderate" crop loss in only Bolangir
districts.

"The crop condition in 18 other districts remained
normal," the NRSC report said.

PTI