Odisha Assembly adjourned after BJP MLA's suicide threat

BJP MLA Subash Chandra Panigrahi said that he will not hesitate to immolate himself to protest against the sufferings of the farmers
Last Updated 26 February 2021, 11:26 IST

Odisha Assembly was Friday adjourned till post-lunch session after a BJP lawmaker threatened suicide and the Congress Legislature party leader sat on dharna in the well of the House demanding immediate procurement of paddy from farmers in different mandis of the state.

The issue was raised during the question hour when BJP MLA from Deogarh, Subash Chandra Panigrahi announced that he will not hesitate to immolate himself to protest against the sufferings of the farmers who are not able to sell their paddy in the mandis following the introduction of the centralised token system.

Farmers are given tokens to sell their paddy before it is harvested. By the time the paddy is ready for sale, the tenure of the tokens are found to have elapsed causing harassment to them.

This has led to hundreds of farmers to protest and put up road blocakdes in the state, he said.

Sitting on a dharna in the well of the House, Panigrahi said: "I will immolate myself if the procurement process is not streamlined and the produce of the farmers are procured at the earliest".

He said, "The farmers in my constituency are threatening to commit sucide as they are not being able to sell their paddy. Therefore, when the farmers are getting prepared to go for self-immolation, I as their representative have no choice but to adopt the same procedure to protest against the governments inability to procure paddy".

Panigrahi, however, returned to his seat after Speaker S N Patro asured him that he will be given opportunity to raise the issue during the zero hour.

As soon as the zero hour began, Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra sat on dharna under the Speakers podium in the well and made the same demand. He said that the government must give justice to farmers and should refrain from cheating them.

''We want specific reply from the government. Let the Speaker convene an all party meeting and resolve the issue immediately," Mishra said.

Unable to run the House due to the ruckus, Speaker S N Patro adjourned the proceeding till 4 pm.

The House also witnessed members cutting across party lines expressing concern over sand smuggling across the state during the question hour. The opposition BJP and Congress members created ruckus demanding formulation of a policy to curb illegal sand mining across the state.

The speaker too expressed concern and asked the Revenue and Disaster Minister Sudam Marandi why the government has no specific policy for lifting sand from different rivers.

Sand is under minor mineral category and should be regularised.

"In my constituency too sand is lifted and smuggled to Andhra Pradesh. Therefore to stop the illegal activity, the government should formulate a policy," Patro said in the House.

The minister said that the government is in the process of consultation with different stakeholders and will soon formulate a policy on sand lifting.

Congress whip Taraprasad Bahinipati said "the general people are charged hefty amounts as penalty when they lift sand for constructing their houses. But no action is taken against the sand mafia. The government is losing thousands of crores of rupees due to the lack of a specific policy".

In a written reply to a question made by BJP whip Mohan Majhi, the minister said that the draft of Odisha Sand Policy is in its final stage.

The minister also informed the House that though a decision was taken on April 11, 2018, for deploying police to check sand theft from different rivers, it could not be implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister informed the House that the state government has already identified 144 tehsils in the state as sensitive areas. Special squads consisting of officials, including revenue inspectors and amins have been formed in those areas to keep a check on the illegal activities

(Published 26 February 2021, 11:21 IST)

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