Odisha Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout on Monday courted controversy by saying that he has no plan of visiting the bereft family of Brunda Sahu, a farmer who committed suicide in Bargarh district, as he did not belong to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Rout's statement came after Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday met the farmer's family members.
"The Union Minister is visiting as he (Brunda Sahu) might be of the BJP. Since he is not my party man, why should I visit," asked the minister.
The farmer committed suicide on November 1, a day after he had set his pest-affected paddy crops on fire.
Rout said that an order has already been given to enquire into the suicide incident and a high-level probe team is conducting the investigation.
"What for he committed suicide? Why did he set his paddy crop on fire in the field prior to that? On the very next day, he committed suicide in presence of many people. All angles and aspects are being probed into by a high-level team," he stated.
Meanwhile, the Union Agriculture Minister blamed the state government for not creating awareness on the use of pesticides by the farmers and said as a result they used wrong pesticides on their paddy fields that led to increase in pest attack.
Shekhawat, who visited several areas to assess the crop situation, talked to several farmers during his visit.
Recently, the farmers of Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Nuapada, Ganjam, Sambalpur and Rayagada districts in the state set their crops on fire as they could not stop the attack of brown plant-hopper pest.
As many as nine farmers have allegedly committed suicide over crop loss due to pest attack in last few weeks.
The Odisha government has announced a package of Rs 124 crore for the farmers affected by pest attack in different areas of the state during this Kharif season. It notified 1,28,319 hectares of cropped areas in 24 districts as pest-affected.
The state government had announced that agriculture input subsidy at Rs 6,800 per hectare for rainfed areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare for areas under assured irrigation would be provided to the farmers, who suffered crop loss due to pest attack.
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