Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 18:
With only couple of days left for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bargarh farmers’ convention, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today went for a tour of Western Odisha districts of Bolangir and Kalahandi and inaugurated a slew of projects there.
During his short tour, Patnaik laid foundation stones of various irrigation projects worth Rs 423 crore in the districts and inaugurated 17 development projects apart from addressing two public meetings in both the districts.
Some of the key projects Patnaik inaugurated today include a mega irrigation project in Junagarh, a Rs 13.26 crore lift irrigation project to irrigate 780 hectares of land, a 100 seat ST girls’ hostel at Jamuta Government High School in Gudvella, a 33/11 KV grid substation there, 100 seat ST girls’ hostel at Sikalapadar Sevasram, a mini stadium at Titlagarh, a bridge over Lantha River connecting Saintala and Badipada, Rs 11.92 crore flood protection embankment on left of River Tel from Belgaon to Ambapalli, a mega drinking water project at Belgaon, a mini stadium at Tushara etc.
Security arrangements had been tightened ahead of the visit and a Congress supporter attempting to show a black flag to Patnaik in Gudvella was thrashed and whisked off by the cops from venue.
With a large farmers’ rally in Bhubaneswar today and BJP’s February 21 farmers’ convention in mind, Patnaik reiterated his commitment for the welfare of farmers in the state in his addresses and cited the recent ‘Krishi Karman Award’ as a milestone of progress made by the state in agriculture.
“The State Government has allocated a Rs 35,000 crore package including Rs 8,000 crore for irrigation in Western Odisha. Besides, the government will provide health insurance to 60 lakh farmers and offer loans at low interest rates,” said Patnaik.
While Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Narasingha Mishra slammed Naveen over the tour and called it a “party programme organised through public funding,”, State BJP President Basant Panda was equally scathing in his attack.
“Farmers have committed suicide because of crop loss owing to lack of irrigation facilities. This government doesn’t have a proper crop procurement policy either. Hundreds of farmers from this region are migrating to other states seeking jobs. Such visits to lay the foundation stones of projects ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to Bargarh will not help the farmers in anyway,” said Panda.
BJD Spokesperson Pratap Deb, however, ruled out any political motives behind Naveen’s tour.
“This is a pre-planned visit and has nothing to do with the tour of the Prime Minister. He would also tour various other towns to fulfill the promises he made earlier. As part of this tour, he will visit Jharsuguda and Rourkela on February 24, Sambalpur on February 27 and Keonjhar on February 29,” said Deb.