Octogenarian farmer Simon Oraon from Bero area of Ranchi, whose name was recently announced for Padma Shree award, Saturday said that he was not sure whether to accept the award and has left it to the other farmers and his village to decide on the same.
Oraon added that he wanted to stress upon the government to see to it that farmers’ conditions improve in the state. He also said that the new government in the State had made lot of promises, but still no work was visible on the ground.
Talking to The Indian Express over phone, Oraon said: “I am not going to use this award for my own publicity. There are still many small farmers who are languishing for want of better irrigation facilities. The present government has announced much, but nothing is happening on the ground. Availability of irrigation water is a major problem in many areas. Also, I am there because of support from a large number of farmers and my village mates. Therefore, I have decided to leave it to them on whether I should accept the award or not. I will call a panchayat for the same. My only submission is that the government should take up the cause of farmers more seriously. If they are not willing to do that, I would not accept the award.”
Oraon, a class four drop-out, has virtually been a living legend as he is credited with transforming nearly half-a-dozen villages around his own village, Bero, in Ranchi into vibrant vegetable producing hub from what used to be patches of barren land. He got several check dams constructed, starting with failed attempts of his own in the early 1960s. Thereafter, he got ponds dug up in six villages around Bero.
“When I began, it was barren land and barely produced two crops. Today, they grow at least three crops. I want the government to see to it that the farmers have enough irrigation facilities,” he said.
State BJP spokesperson Prem Mittal said: “Oraon must accept the award because it is an honour to his immense contribution in the field of agriculture in and around his village. It is also an honour for Jharkhand. As far as the BJP government is concerned, we are fully aware of the possibilities and are very much on the path to improve the situation of farmers in the state. We have already launched the crop insurance scheme. Various initiatives regarding irrigation and check dams are being taken up. In fact, we are of the considered view that Jharkhand is not only mineral rich state, but has great possibility of becoming an agriculture hub. We are progressing along those lines.”