SAMBALPUR, Oct. 8: More than 140 acres of paddy fields with standing crop got damaged after severe rain on the 18th of last month. Farmers of Gundurupada, Nua Jamada, Nua Gujatal, close to Hirakud township, alleged that fluoride gas from the Hindalco plant producing aluminium from alumina was responsible from the crop damage.
The reports of the state pollution control board and central rice research institute are not specifying anything in particular. But keeping in view to the plight of the poor farmers, district administration came to their rescue. “Although crop loss due to fluoride effect is yet to be established, still at our instruction Hindalco management agreed to extend Rs 10,500 financial assistance per acre to all farmers,” informed the collector of Sambalpur Mr Pradipta Kumar Patnaik
From 10 October onwards, a team consisting of agriculture officials, tehsildars of revenue department led by sub-collector of Sambalpur Mr KC Sahu will assess the area damaged and payment will be made accordingly, the collector informed. Perhaps this is highest ever financial assistance in the state, he added. Payment will be made to the farmers not directly by Hindalco but from the district Red-Cross funds, he said.
It is further learnt that the report of the CRRI suggests farmers should change crop pattern and the variety of paddy. They further suggest to use cow manure for the crop and store sufficient water in the field so that they can get at least some paddy.
A similar situation occurred in the year 2003 in this particular place and Hindalco management paid Rs. 1 lakh only then to all the farmers. But this time the assistance will be around Rs. 1.5 crore.
“Farmers will be eligible at least to recuperate the capital they invested in the crop. But they wouldn’t get any profit out of it,” opined Mr Bamdev Sarangi, a resident of Hirakud town.