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The Odisha government on Monday announced the constitution of an inter-ministerial committee to discuss the demands of agitating farmers even as their 'padyatra' reached the entry points of the state capital.
Finance Minister S B Behera, who will head the inter-ministerial committee, appealed to the farmers to have faith in the government and return to their villages.
"Odisha government stands committed to the cause of farmers' welfare. The inter-ministerial committee will discuss the demands of farmers," he told reporters.
He said Odisha was one of the first states to have an exclusive budget for agriculture and farmers' empowerment.
"The state government has been providing loans at one per cent interest to farmers and our irrigation budget has had the maximum growth in the last 10 years," Behera said.
Officials said the state agriculture, panchayati raj and cooperation ministers would be part of the inter-ministerial committee.
The farmers, agitating under the banner of Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS), rejected the committee.
They staged a sit-in at Tamando and Pahala on National Highway 55 -- the two entry points to Bhubaneswar -- as the police did not allow them to enter the city.
"Let the government arrest us. We will not move an inch from the place where the police denied us entry. We will stage a dharna in a non-violent manner," NNKS convenor Akshya Kumar said.
He said the agitators have been demanding fair price, pension and prestige for 36 lakh farmers of the state for the past eight years but the government is not paying heed.
Marching from Cuttack and Khurda, the farmers planned to hold a mega convention on Mahatma Gandhi Marg near the state assembly.
The BJP and the Congress have backed the NNKS farmers' agitation.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)