Reports of crop loss in more than 1.78 lakh hectares due to pest attack and the growing instances of farmer suicides across the state prompted the state government to take stock of the situation on Sunday.
Development commissioner R. Balakrishnan and other senior officials held a video-conference with district collectors on Sunday despite it being an official holiday. They asked the collectors to go to the people and create awareness about the remedial measures for the pest attack.
"The situation is under control. There is nothing to panic," said Balakrishnan after the video-conference asking the farmers not to set their infected crop on fire.
He said that the collectors had been asked to aware the farmers about the right kind of pesticide mix to address the pest attack. A sum of Rs 5 lakh would be spent in each block on the awareness drive.
Special relief commissioner Bishunupada Sethi said: "Pest attack is a natural calamity. Financial assistance will be given to the pest-affected farmers as in case of drought. The farmers will be provided assistance at the rate of Rs 6,800 per hectare of non-irrigated land and Rs 13,500 per hectare in case of irrigated land'.
The agri-cabinet was scheduled to meet on Monday to take stock of the situation and take a final call on the matter.
Before the agri-cabinet meeting, a meeting is also scheduled to be held under the chairmanship of state's disaster mitigation minister Maheswar Mohanty to review the pest attack situation and take a decision on the package of assistance for the affected farmers.
On Saturday, agriculture minister Damodar Rout had announced that the pest-hit farmers would be given compensation.
But, those who were burning their crop would not be given compensation, he said.
His statement had drawn flak from the farmers and Opposition parties. Priti Sahu, daughter of Brinda Sahu, who has committed suicide after crop loss due to pest attack, has demanded resignation of Rout saying that he has lost moral right to be in the government.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan said: "The farmers are eligible for compensation for pest attack under the Relief Code. The government is not showing mercy to them." BJP state president Basanta Panda also criticised Rout for his "insensitivity" towards the plight of farmers.