Paddy procurement issue keeps Odisha Assembly session on boil- The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Assembly witnessed noisy scenes for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as opposition Congress and BJP members created ruckus over irregularities in paddy procurement in several Government-run mandis. The House had to be adjourned twice till 12.50 pm by Speaker Surjya Narayan Patro due to the noisy scenes created by the opposition members. Normalcy returned after the Speaker convened an all-party meeting.

Earlier, as soon as the Assembly met for the question hour, BJP and Congress members trooped into the well of the House displaying placards describing the Government as anti-farmer, forcing the Speaker to adjourn. Demanding a discussion on non-procurement of paddy in several mandis, they claimed that hundreds of quintals of paddy are not being procured due to a nexus between the Government and rice mill owners.

The Speaker convened an all-party meeting to resolve the impasse where opposition members agreed to call off the agitation as Budget discussions are getting affected. “Our demand that the Government should purchase all the paddy from farmers remains intact. However, we will cooperate in the Budget discussion,” Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik said.

Leader of the Congress Legislature Party Narasingh Mishra said there is no end to the plight of the farmers. Their condition has become miserable following unseasonal rains on Monday and Tuesday, he added. BJP member Jaynarayan Mishra claimed that the Government has closed down some mandis in Sambalpur and Bargarh districts. 

The Speaker said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain has started discussions with MLAs from different districts to sort out the problems of farmers. Opposition members said since the procurement will continue till March 31, they will keep a watch on the process. “If required, we will again agitate in the Assembly,” said Congress member Taraprasad Bahinipati. 

SFC grants: Focus on education, health infrastructure

BHUBANESWAR: With the Fifth State Finance Commission (SFC) recommending an overall devolution of Rs 3,202.4 crore for 6,789 gram panchayats during 2020-25, the primary focus of Odisha Government will be on infrastructure development for education, health and drinking water supply.

Making a statement in the Assembly, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Minister Pratap Jena said steps will be taken to improve infrastructure through convergence of fund from SFC, Central Finance Commission and MGNREGS.

The SFC has recommended Rs 1,000 crore to take care of water-stressed pockets.  The proposal of Rs 250 crore for installation of solar energy-based tube well system with overhead tank to provide drinking water to 5,000 small villages and hamlets will be met from the fund.

The funds allocated under BASUDHA and Jal Jiban Mission will be converged for piped water supply in rural areas. The Commission has recommended Rs 10 lakh per GP for development of rest sheds with provision of safe drinking water and toilet.

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