The Bihar government on Wednesday declared drought in 33 of the 38 districts as the state has received 668.6 mm rainfall as against the annual average at 892.2 mm a deficit of 28 per cent. The rainfall deficit in 15 of these 33 districts is as high as 60 per cent.
The decision to declare drought was taken at the cabinet meeting after assessing rainfall deficit and percentage of land under paddy cultivation by the second week of September. The government has also decided to closely monitor the situation in the remaining five districts Arwal,Banka,Rohtas,Kishanganj and Araria.
Principal Secretary of Disaster Management Department,Vyasji,said this year Monsoon lasted for only 15 days in the state as against the normal presence of 45 days. This,he said,led to the drastic fall in the level of the underground water table.
With Wednesdays announcement,recovery of loans from farmers by the co-operative and commercial banks will be stopped with immediate effect in the drought-hit districts. Farmers of the affected districts will not pay agricultural taxes,rents on land and electricity bills. The state government will pay each affected adult Rs 20 per day for food for a month.
Though the state government has already announced a diesel subsidy of Rs 750 crore to farmers,less than Rs 20 crore has been be distributed so far.
BJP calls it a belated decision
The Opposition BJP slammed the state government for declaring drought very late. Senior BJP leader and former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said,We had been asking the government to declare drought for over a month now. CM Nitish Kumar should explain the belated decision,which will delay drought relief to lakhs of affected farmers. In the election year of 2010,the state had declared drought in first week of August and promptly mounted pressure on Centre by demanding Rs 5,000 crore relief, he added. ENS