The state government’s bid to woo the farm community ahead of the assembly polls, through an exclusive Budget for the sector, has failed to cheer the targeted community. Both farmers and fishermen have expressed discontent over the Budget for lacking provisions to benefit them. “We had demanded the provision of monthly pension for the aged farmers and Rs 300 bonus per quintal of paddy beyond the minimum support price (MSP). The state government, however, did not make any such provision in its budget,” said Rabi Rath, state convener of Odisha Chasi Surakhya Abhiyana. The government has also not made any provisions for the tenant farmers, who are worst affected at the time of crop failure, he said. The Odisha Traditional Fish Workers’ Union also reacted sharply to the Budget as it has no provision to compensate the fishermen for loss incurred during the fishing ban in the sea for Olive Ridley turtle breeding and nesting. “The traditional fishermen are worst hit due to the imposition of fishing ban in the sea for seven months for turtle breeding and nesting.
We have demanded compensation for them. The government, however, did not spell anything about it in the Budget,” said K Alleya, president of the fishermen organisation. The Budgetary announcement for free SIM cards to the fishermen has also failed to cheer to cheer over 120,000 lakh active fishermen families in the state. “The popular sop is only aimed at diverting attention from the basic problems being faced by the fishermen and their genuine demands,” according to the leaders of Odisha Traditional Fish Workers’ Union (OTFWU). The government has imposed seven months of fishing prohibition in the Bay of Bengal from November 1 to May 31 every year owing to the mating and nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtles, an endangered species. Around 120,000 active fishermen of six coastal districts- Ganjam, Puri, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak and Balasore, who depend on the sea to eke out their livelihoods are badly hit due to the ban.