Bargarh/ Sambalpur/ Bhubaneswar, 21/11: Finally, the state government bowed down to the demand of farmers. It was decided that the peasants can sell paddy to the government without token. Though the farmer’s agitation was finally called off at the end of the day on Thursday, violent and intense protest had marked the day. Farmers staged road blockade in Sambalpur and Bargarh by dumping paddy bags on the road and hundreds of peasants under the banner of Nav Nirman Krushak Sangathan clashed with police near the state assembly. On the other hand, assembly proceedings were paralyzed for the entire day over the issue.
Farmers of western Odisha had staged agitation at several places in the region including Sambalpur and Bargarh opposing the token system introduced this year by the government for the procurement of paddy from them. The agitators staged dharana on the road dumping hundreds of paddy bags besides gheraoing the residence of district collectors and MLAs.
At the state capital, hundreds of farmers marched in a rally towards Naveen Niwas, chief minister’s official residence and they were intercepted on the way by the police. This led to clash with the police forces. Several rallyists were lifted by the police. Nav Nirman Krushak Sangathan claimed that around 24 lakh farmers were associated with the stir against the token system and exclusion of genuine beneficiaries from the KALIA scheme.
In the state assembly, the House could not transact business for the entire day because of protest dharna by the opposition MLAs. Even the all party meeting called by the Speaker could not end the impasse,
The agitation outside and inside the assembly forced Labour Minister Susant Singh and Rairakhole MLA Rohit Pujari to discuss with the agitators, which was held in three phases. At the end of discussion with the Food and Civil Supplies minister and secretary it was decided that the farmers of Hirakud command area can sell paddy to the government without token. Thereafter, the agitation was called off.
The government put forth two proposals before the farmers during the negotiation. The paddy procurement system will be simplified and the time limit for the paddy purchase from the farmers of Hirakud command area will be extended. Besides, if any farmer comes to sell the paddy without token will be accepted.