Andhra government reluctant to declare drought


Hyderabad : With the southwest monsoon triggering heavy rains in parts of Andhra Pradesh and reviving hopes of the farmers, the Congress government is reluctant to declare the state drought hit.

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Minister for Revenue and Relief D. Prasad Rao told the assembly Tuesday that though the government had not officially declared the state drought hit, it was taking all steps to help people in the areas which recorded deficit or scanty rainfall.

Expressing his happiness over the revival of southwest monsoon in parts of the state during last three days, the minister hoped that more rains in the coming days would improve the agriculture scenario.

The heavy rains under the impact of low pressure trough over the southwest Bay of Bengal came as much needed relief to the state, facing the spectre of the worst drought in 50 years.

For most parts of the state this was the first heavy rain of the season. There were hardly any rains in a majority of districts though monsoon set in early June.

The Congress government, which is facing the threat of first drought in its six years, was worried as the failure of monsoon triggered suicides by farmers. About 20 farmers have committed suicides during last one and half months, though the government has denied that they are linked to drought.

Replying to debate on drought conditions in the state, the revenue minister informed the assembly that sowing operations during the kharif crop season were taken up on four million hectares of land against the normal crop area of eight million hectares.

He denied the allegation by opposition parties that the government was refusing to recognise the existence of drought. “Our government will not hesitate from taking up relief works just because we have not declared the state drought-hit,” he said.

Leader of Opposition and Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu wondered how the central government would render assistance to the state when the state government itself is refusing to recognise the existence of drought.

According to officials, the rainfall deficit is about 50 percent in the state. Only two of the 23 districts have received normal rainfall this season. About 80 percent of 1,128 mandals, or administrative units comprising six to seven villages each, have received deficit or scanty rainfall.

With the weather office predicting more rains over the next two days, authorities hope this would bring down the deficit and save the state from the worst drought in five decades.