Bhubaneswar, Nov 3: Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout today appealed the farmers in the state neither to take extreme step of committing suicide nor to torch their pest-affected standing paddy crop since paddy is considered as goddess Laxmi.
'Paddy crops have been regarded as Goddess Laxmi in our society since time immemorial; I am requesting the farmers in distress with folded hands not to set their pest-affected standing paddy crops on fire,' it is my personal request to farmers as I belong to a farmer's family, not official statement as the minister.
Besides, the Minister assured that stringent action would be taken against persons who are selling duplicate pesticides that are damaging the crops.
'The State government is with them; appropriate action will be taken and adequate compensation will be provided to the distressed farmers' he added.
The government has issued a toll-free number - 1800-180-1551 - so as to respond promptly to the farmers seeking help.
The BJD leader told the media that he will not give any political statement until and unless the issue is solved.
It may be mentioned here that this week, farmers from Sambalpur, Bargarh, Rayagada and Ganjam districts have torched their crops damaged by pests.