Bargarh, Oct 31: It appears that worries of farmers in Bargarh district (considered the rice bowl of Orissa) is unlikely to relent sometime soon, as three frustrated farmers set their farms on fire Tuesday due to severe crop loss owing to pest attack.
It is learnt that as the paddy field was infested with pests, the hapless farmers finding no other solution took this bizarre step ahead of the harvest season.
Confirming the incidents, Orissa Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout told the media, “The Principal Secretary has been directed to depute the Plan and Protection Officer with two experts to the village and submit reports within 24-48 hours.”
In the first instance, Brundaban Sahu of Kalapani village first set fire on his 7-acre paddy field. Luckily, only one-acre paddy was gutted, while locals doused the flame before it spread. In another case, Banka Bihari Sahu of Barahagoda village torched his half-acre paddy field, which was reduced to ashes.
Bargarh MLA Debesh Acharya, tehsildar Pratibha Dora, Agriculture Department deputy director Naba Kishore Das, District Agriculture officer Binod Kumar Lakra, additional tehsildar Narayan Dansana, Anurag Mishra, revenue supervisor Rishab Sahu, revenue inspector Babaji Dheer reached the village and took stock of the situation.
The third incident was reported from Gaisima village. A farmer named Tosamani Mohapatra set his farm on fire. On the other hand, another sharecropper identified as Saroj Kathar (45) of Sankirda village under Bheden block also reportedly tried to torch his farm, but was stopped by revenue officials.
Devastating their hopes of reaping a bumper harvest, pests infested the standing crops in most regions of the district. All these farmers had taken loans from various sources and were a worried lot, as none of them are in a position to repay their debts.
When the farmers turned to the authorities for help, they were provided with pesticides to check the menace. Unfortunately, it turned out that the pesticides provided to the farmers were bogus and instead of killing the pests, they increased the pest infestation.
Earlier, the farmers had tried to bring the matter to the notice of the administration but in vain. Reeling under severe mental pressure, these farmers took such drastic steps. Many more farmers including Gagan Suar, Prasant Suar, Prafulla Patel, Basudev Tandi, Suryanarayan Suar, Dhrubaraj Purhoit, G Guna Venkat Rao, Lakhyapati Bhosagar, and Prassana Megha too met with the same fate.
When contacted, the officials assured to prepare a report and submit it to the government and provide necessary compensation to the farmers. Notably, three farmers have committed suicide following crops loss and loan burden in a span of five days in the district. Locals feared many farmers might take the extreme steps if no measure was taken by the administration. (Post News Network)