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Let Chief Minister assign paddy procurement to MAKRKFED
Sambalpuri Saree has made its presence felt in the world market and has brought repute to the State of Odisha and to our country as well. The hands that make it are unmistakably known for their brilliant artistry and splendid craftsmanship. But the societies of weavers are toiling and darkening themselves in labour and pain owing to the indifference of the Government agencies, the lackadaisical attitude of the administration and the apathy of our society. Few men come forward to champion their cause. Here is one Sananda Kumar Meher, who has ventured to voice the agony of the weaver community of the Sambalpur region, especially of Subarnapur district to which he belongs. At present, Meher is President of BC Munda Agricultural Cooperative Societies, President of Laxmi Narayan Weavers’ Society, President of RCMS of Subarnapur district, President of Cooperative Organiaation of Subarnapur district, Member, Board of Directors of Balangir Central Cooperative Bank, Member, Board of Director of MARKFED, Member, Board of Director of Boyanika. A workaholic by nature and a painstaking activist, Meher plays a catalytic role in fighting for the just and the genuine causes of farmers and weavers of Subarnapur and Balangir districts and believes that a transformation of the lots of the farmers and weavers would be possible if the Government and Governmental agencies come forward to understand and appreciate the problems and predicaments of these two sections of the society. In an interview to The Pioneer, Meher spoke to Sugyan Choudhury at the MARKFED Complex in Bhubaneswar.
How do you explain the concept cooperative movement in our State?
The concept of cooperative movement was brought to India by the great Utkalgaurav Madhusudan Das. Madhubabu was greatly influenced by the concept as it was working tremendously well in foreign countries and introduced the same in British India in the year 1930. This concept is like a magic capsule. But it has come to suffer from inertia, withdrawal, passivity owing to the shortsightedness of our officers, departments and leaders. The cooperative movement is practically working at three levels. It functions at the primary level as Primary Societies taking into account one or two GPs. Then, it is working at the central level taking one or two districts; and at the State level, it works as the apex society. All the 2,780 Primary Societies, 17 Central Banks and all the apex societies and the State level are working under the Cooperative Societies Act, 1962 and the Odisha Cooperative Society Act, 1965. The Registrar of Cooperative Societies is the final authority. The original intention of Madhubabu was to strengthen the economic conditions of the poor, lower middle class and the middle class. But due to the lack of proper coordination and effective leadership, it has failed in many fronts. Farmers and weavers are not able to get their desired benefits because of the lackadaisical attitude of our administration. The vision of our popular Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to transform and strengthen the economic conditions of all sections of people is facing challenges because of the halfhearted attitude of officers of the Cooperation Department.
What are your opinions for rejuvenating the Odisha State Cooperative Marketing Federation?
During my three years as a Member in the Board of Directors of MARKFED, I have formed some opinions. The MARKFED today is facing loss. If the Government involves the MARKFED as a paramount agent in procurement paddy then there would not be any distress sale of paddy by farmers. Rather, the MARKFED will generate a profit of Rs 100 of crore; and within a very short period, the MARKFED will emerge as a nemero uno profit-making organisation of the State.
How do you think to invite the attention of the CM in this regard to make the MARKFED a vibrant organisation?
Our popular Chief Minister is committed to an all-round development of cooperative institutions. If the CM sees it that the MARKFED is assigned the task of procuring paddy from farmers, provide them insecticides, fertilisers then it is sure that the farmers will receive the best-quality fertilisers and best-quality insecticides at the Governm3ent rates. Hence, the farmers will not be exploited by unscrupulous companies proving them low-quality fertilisers and insecticides. The problems of farmers shall be over for all time to come. I must say to our CM that there will not be any farmer’s suicide and the MARKFED will be a number one profit-making organisation participating in the State’s economic growth.
Do you believe that the cooperative movement in the State is fraught with danger owing to corruption?
Corruption is at its height in the Cooperative Banks like the Central Cooperatives Banks and in most CCBs. If Rs 10,000.00 crore is meant to be given as loan to farmers then the bank authorities would issue a target to the cooperative society to distribute some crores as loan to farmers. Then, the society officials would prepare records and distribute loans to persons regardless whether they are farmers or not. In this way, the real farmers are deprived of getting loans. These are the instances of bad loans. Of course, very recently, our CM has taken a bold step in which farmers will not have to deposit 10% of the security deposit and neither they have to mortgage their lands for availing any loan up to Rs 10 lakh with a minimum deposit of Rs 500. This step of the CM is a historic one for ameliorating the lots of the peasantry of our State.
Can you give an instance of corruption in the Cooperative Bank sector?
Corruption has reached its nadir at the Balangir Central Cooperative Bank with charity to all and malice to none, I must submit that Laxman Kumar Meher who is at present the president of this bank was removed from his post in 2016 by the DRCS, Balangir, on charges of rampant corruption. But strangely enough, the Babus of the Odisha State Cooperative Bank and other mandarins of the cooperative administration reinstated him after six months for reasons best known to them. We have raised hue and cry to the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and to the office of the Chief Minister, but all our complaints have been thrown to the wind. If corruption is banished from the cooperative movement, Naveenbabu’s commitment to ensuring welfare of farmers and weavers will be fruitful.
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