A farmer committed suicide in Ganjam district allegedly due to crop failure after pest attack and unseasonal rains, making him the 10th farmer to take the extreme step since October in Odisha.
The opposition BJP lashed out at the BJD government for the farmer deaths and alleged that the state agriculture and labour ministers had ridiculed distressed peasants instead of mitigating their plight.
The farmer, who was identified as Rajendra Bhuyan of Baulajholi village under Kukudakhnadi block, died after consuming pesticide. He was a share-cropper and had cultivated paddy in over four acres, district officials said.
His death follows the alleged suicide by another farmer in coastal Kendrapara district yesterday due to crop loss in the unseasonal rain since November 13.
Confirming Bhuyans death, Berhampur Sub Collector Sidharth Shankar Swain said the tehsildar, agriculture officer and police rushed to the spot and were inquiring into the reasons behind it.
The farmers family members alleged that he had taken loans from different people in the village amounting to Rs two lakh, promising them to repay after harvest.
He was under severe mental pressure following the crop loss due to the pest attack and incessant rainfall in the district, his son Laxman told reporters.
Laxman said last night his father consumed pesticide which was in the house and he was found dead this morning.
"We have provided Rs 10,000 to his family members from the Red Cross for immediate expenditure and to perform the last rites," Swain said.
The post-mortem was conducted at the MKCG Medical College here and the cause of the farmer's death would be ascertained after getting the report, said inspector in-charge of Berhampur Sadara Police Station, S S Mohapatra.
BJP state secretary Bibhuti Jena said "The government should now accept that the farmer committed suicide due to the crop failure. His family should be provided with Rs 20 lakh as compensation."
BJP general secretary Arun Singh, who is the partys Odisha in-charge, attacked the BJD government, alleging that some state ministers had ridiculed distressed peasants.
"It is unfortunate that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has remained silent all along and no action was taken against the ministers who made irresponsible remarks about the crisis faced by the farmers in the state," Singh told reporters in Bhubaneswar.
The state government is instead trying to blame others for the farmers suicides in order to hide its failure and inefficiency, he alleged.
Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout had said he did not want to visit the family of Bargarh farmer Brunda Sahu, who had taken his life after setting fire to his crop which suffered a pest attack, as they did not belong to the BJD.
His comment came after Union Minister of State for Agriculture G S Shekhawat and other BJP leaders visited Sahus house.
Rout had also said that farmers who had burnt their paddy crops would not be given compensation.
Labour Minister Sushant Singh had claimed the farmer had committed suicide after being instigated by the BJP.
The BJP leader said the party was trying to alert the BJD government about the problems of the farmers. "But the state government refuses to wake up and act," he claimed.
Referring to the suicide by the Bargarh farmer, Singh said he had approached the authorities for help but no official or minister came forward and the man was driven to commit suicide.
The Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments were providing bonus to farmers and concession on agricultural loans but the Odisha government had not taken any such step to help the distressed farmers, he added.
Reacting to Singhs statement, Rout said the BJP leader should realise that agriculture is a state subject in which central leaders have no role. Under the Constitution, it is the responsibility of the state government to deal with issues of agriculture and farmers.