Anguished over not being able to operate defunct sugar mills and cold storages in the state, Odisha minister Damodar Rout today called himself as "most inefficient" and "helpless" person in the government. "Do not ashame me by referring that I am most able minister in the state. I am, in fact, the most inefficient and helpless minister in the government," Rout said in the assembly while replying an adjournment debate on closure of sugar mills causing frustration among farmers. Rout having 40-years experience in politics, said he had brought laurels for the state as Pancahayati Raj, Agriculture and other ministers. "But, I have "failed" in the Cooperation department," Rout said. Rout, who hold the Cooperation portfolio said: "I am pained that most of the members of this House refer me as the most efficient.
But, in reality, I am not because of the hurdles being put on my way." Though the entire House including leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress, was surprised over Rout's statement, he went on speaking that it was very difficult to run a "democratic government under bureaucratic influence." The minister said he did not get adequate support from the bureaucracy to take up welfare programmes, be it revival of defunct sugar mills or cold storages which could help farmers to a great extent. "Had we sufficient cold storages, our farmers will not go for distress sale of vegetables besides potatoes and tomatoes," Rout said adding that he now tries to set up cold storages with help of RMC (regulated market committee). The minister also said that though he has a lot of ideas to help the farmers and make Cooperation department viable, he could not do it because of the lack of "attitude and cooperation" from the bureaucracy. Rout also admitted in the House that the farmers are under duress for closure of sugar mills and cold storages. Earlier, Leader of Opposition Naraisngha Mishra of Congress had alleged that the state government failed to help the sugarcane farmers across the state. He said the farmers do not get their dues from the sugar mills run by the cooperative societies. Rout said there are five sugar mills in the state of which only two were in operation. Remaining three sugar mills have been closed due to several factors and his efforts to revive such units has faced hurdles from the bureaucracy. The minister, however, assured the House that he would again try to make such defunct sugar mills operational.
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