SEED SCANDAL: THE SPEAKER HAD TO ISSUE A DIRECTION

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The administrative approach to agriculture is so agonizing that the ruling alliance heavyweight Pradeep Maharathi could not control his aggrieved mind and thought it prudent to use today’s zero hour to vomit his allegations against non-supply of seeds to the cultivators. His aghast co-sitters in the treasury benches corroborated Maharathi on the basis of their experiences in areas under their respective constituencies. The Opposition stand was amply substantiated.

Devastated by repeated floods that lashed Orissa five times this year, the cultivators have lost their domestic stock of seeds in entirety under the water that was not receding for weeks at a time. Every expert on agriculture, mostly retired from Government service and every social worker helping the affected and every political leader worth the name irrespective of party affiliations were unison in warning the Government that it should procure and stock sufficient seeds for the winter crops as that would be the only source of sustenance of the people. The Government was emphatic in its repeated assertions that it has enough seeds to meet the needs even for two years! The media was flooded with advertisements that the flood-hit farmers shall also get the seeds under subsidy.

Where are those seeds?-asked Maharathi. What to say of other places, farmers even in the constituency of the Agriculture Minister are unable to get the seeds they require! –he pointed out in presence of the embarrassed Minister. The Government, thriving on a nonchalant corrupt bureaucracy, has been playing havoc with the lives of innumerable farmers, he said and cautioned that if the seed need of the flood-ruined farmers are not met one cannot say for sure what shape shall take the mass upsurge that would eventually rise. Ms. Sanchita Mohanty of the BJP group of the ruling alliance agreed with Maharathi and corroborated with facts from her constituency the allegations raised by her colleague. It is a shame that the administration is using the tactics of short supply of seeds to cheat everybody, she alleged. Elaborating, she said, in her constituency, the Government has made propaganda that groundnut seeds are available for sale. Farmers are rushing into the designated counters and whosoever gets the seed helps in building up public belief that the Government is supplying the seeds. But in reality, only 4 thousand quintals of seeds are available when 48 thousand quintals of groundnut seeds are needed. This is nothing but a trick played by administration to hoodwink the people, she maintained. Members from both the parties of the ruling alliance as well as from the Opposition were in unison.

The Agriculture Minister was silently watching the debates. The Speaker asked him to place on records the details of the stock of seeds vis-à-vis requirement as estimated by officials and position of supply vis-à-vis volume of real demands, as to him it was too serious a scenario to slough over.

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