Odisha government today admitted that drought-like situation prevailed in certain pockets of the state due to deficient rainfall in the ongoing monsoon season. Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Maheswar Mohanty admitted this while replying to a debate on an adjournment notice in the assembly. "I will personally visit some districts to see the prevailing situation in the countryside," the minister said. The minister's statement in the assembly is significant as district collectors in their reports to the state government had denied any drought like situation anywhere in the state. Mohanty said there was 9.9 per cent of deficient rainfall across the state in the months of June, July, August and Sepetmber, 2017. "The highest deficient rainfall was recorded at 29.9 per cent in September till the 13th of the month," the minister said. His reply came in response to Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra's argument that drought situation prevailed in Bolangir, Sonepur, Boudh, Nuapada, Bargarh and Jharsuguda districts. "I will tender unconditional apology in the assembly if my claims are false.
Will the government take strong action against the district collectors who submitted false reports on the drought situation ?" Mishra, who belongs to Congress, asked adding that the collectors prepared their reports and submitted them to the government without making any field visit. Mishra claimed that he had visited at least four gram panchayats under Bhagalpur block in Bolangir district and collected information from Sonepur, Boudh and Jharsuguda districts where the farmers are fighting to save their crop in the drought situation. He suggested to the minister not to believe the collectors' report as they mislead the government causing miseries to the farmers. "I will accompany the minister and show him where drought prevails," Mishra said. The members from opposition BJP including its legislature party leader K V Singhdeo also claimed that drought like situation prevailed in parts of Odisha and asked the government to declare drought in the state. Mohanty assured the house that he would certainly take measures to mitigate the situation and informed the house that the IMD has predicted heavy rainfall next week which may help to improve the situation. The required steps would be taken as per the relief code after receipt of crop cutting report in October, he said. The ruling BJD members admitted that agricultural activities have been severly affected in non-irrigated areas due to scanty rainfall during the monsoon and it may be difficult to revive the crop. Both Congress and BJP members criticised the state government for not being able to provide irrigation to 35 per cent area of each block as promised by the ruling BJD in its manifesto. "They (the BJD) have been promising since 2000 that irrigation facility will be available in 35 per cent area of all the 314 blocks of the state. However, the irrigation potential in 197 blocks still remains below 35 per cent though BJD has completed 17 years of rule in the state," alleged Singhdeo.