Odisha govt seeks timely drought assistance from centre

Opp lampoons Naveen’s letter drama   

BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Odisha government is yet to submit drought assessment report to the central government, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for timely financial assistance to arrest the drought situation in the state.

Patnaik, in a letter to Modi, informed that in view of the drought situation, the state government had reduced the rate of interest on crop loans from 5 per cent to 4 percent through interest subvention for small, marginal and medium farmers.

“This will ultimately reduce the effective rate of interest on crop loans from the existing 2 percent to 1 percent in the case of prompt paying farmers,” said the Chief Minister.

The central government is providing crop loan to farmers at 7 percent of interest.

Earlier on Friday, Patnaik wrote a letter to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley requesting to reduce the interest rate on medium-term (conversion) loans on farmers facing drought situation in the state.

The Chief Minister requested to extend the interest incentive of 3 percent admissible on crop loans to medium term (conversion) loans taking into account the widespread damage caused to the standing crops due to the drought situation prevalent in Odisha.

However, the letter drama of the government is attributed to counter the opposition parties, which are taking mileage over the failure of the state government to check the growing farmer suicide cases.

Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan lampooned the state government for not submitting a memorandum to seek central assistance for drought situation and resorting to a blame game.

“The Odisha government should first submit a memorandum with the centre seeking drought assistance and then resort to the blame game,” Pradhan told reporters here.

Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan also blamed the Naveen Patnaik government for failing to arrest the farmer suicide cases and resorting to empty rhetoric.