Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Official machinery does not act. Cultivators are not able to sell their paddy to the State. This leads to distress sale of paddy, much below the fixed support price, to profiteers / millers’ agents.
This reality was spelt out in Orissa Assembly by the ruling party heavyweight and former Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patra on Saturday in expressing dismay over lackluster assurances of the departmental minister in reply to his question over Food Security as well as in participating in the matter raised by Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati during the zero hour.
Patra is not only a former Revenue Minister, but also a legislator from the district that has sent Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the Assembly despite all his failings and dubious deals. In that district – Ganjam – from Patra’s speech it is clear, that cultivators are perishing due to official apathy when Naveen Patnaik and his government never miss a moment to serve the interests of mega industries.
Patra said, in the district of Ganjam farmers have come to a stage, where for them, suicide seems the only way to escape the debt-trap and ignominy of abject poverty and helplessness. God knows what the government’s order is in matter of paddy procurement, but thousands of quintals of paddy piled by farmers awaiting purchase thereof by the officials is the discernible reality in every procurement point in every block in the districts, he rued, while exposing that the predicament is forcing the farmers to distress-sale their paddy at unremunerative price to mill-agents from Andhra Pradesh.
Patra was not the only member of the treasury bench to have castigated the government over official failure to procure paddy from the cultivators. Purna Chandra Sethy, member from Khalikote of the same district also showed how the farmers are perishing as the State has pushed them into mercy of private profiteers.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister Sanjay Kumar Das Burma watched the debates without any reaction or reply. What irrelevance the government has reduced the Assembly to.
No ruling from the Speaker on the issue, though allowed to be discussed in the zero hour, makes the matter murkier.