Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Oct 24:
Victims of Cyclone Hudhud can wait.Nearly one sixth of the money released by the Odisha government as special calamity assistance in the wake of Cyclone Phailin, which caused large scale destruction in the southern districts last year, is yet to be distributed among the farmers for whom it was meant.
So much for the concern of the ‘farmer-friendly’ government, which earned kudos, including a citation from an UN agency, for its ‘remarkable’ evacuation effort, for its people and the efficiency of its official machinery.
“I am to say that Rs 266.68 crores has been released in favour of 30 districts for disbursement to the farmers as special calamity assistance. Out of this, Rs 226.22 crore have already been disbursed to the farmers leaving the balance of Rs 40.46 crore, which is pending with you for utilisation,” said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare secretary Madhusudan Padhi in a letter to all the district collectors.
He asked them to disburse the balance amount among the genuine farmers by October end.
Even this much delayed directive came only after the chief secretary expressed his displeasure over the non-disbursal of pending funds to the farmers, who bore the brunt of Phailin.
It is to be noted that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy for the farmers hit by cyclone Phailin and subsequent floods. Patnaik had said the farmers would get the benefit of special assistance till the end of the next Kharif season which lasted till April this year.
The government had also announced a special package for farmers. As per the decision, a farmer in the calamity-hit area would get at least Rs. 2,000 as compensation while Rs. 16,500 would be given for loss of each milch cow or buffalo.
The state government had also announced an agriculture input subsidy of Rs. 4,500 per hectare for rain-fed areas and Rs. 9,000 per hectare in assured irrigated areas.
Fishermen who had lost their boats were to get Rs. 3,000 as assistance, besides a subsidy of Rs 75, 000 to build new boats. But A Kaleya, who works for the fishermen community of Podampeta village in Ganjam district, asserts that not one fisherman in the district has got the promised subsidy.
“The state government got so busy savouring the encomiums that it got for evacuation that it forgot all about the farmers and fishermen after the cyclone passed over,” he says.
The experience of those who lost their livelihood due to Cyclone Phailin should convince the Hudhud-hit that they would have to wait for at least a year for their turn to get any assistance from the ‘people’s government’.