Updated: July 23, 2018 6:27:22 am
As many as 35 of the 38 districts in Bihar stare at drought because of a 48 per cent rain deficit at the end of three weeks in July. Only 19 per cent of paddy has been sown so far. The state government will wait till this month’s end to take a final call on declaring drought.
Banka, Madhubani and West Champaran are the only districts to have received average rainfall, while Patna, Arwal, Aurangabad, Bhojpur, Jehanabad, Vaishali and Siwan are among those which had received less rainfall compared to the others.
Though drinking water supply has not been hit yet, officials said that as per the assessment of the public health and engineering department, the water table has gone down by one to three feet in 28 districts as compared to last year.
The state government has been mulling the option of asking farmers to cultivate maize, oats, peas, arhar, kulthi, urad, moong, lobia and lentils, besides vegetables such as raddish. The cultivation of alternative crops could cost Rs 9264.19 lakh for 6,75,409 hectares where paddy may not be sown due to lack of adequate rainfall.
Disaster management department principal secretary Pratyaya Amrit told The Indian Express, “With only three of 38 districts receiving normal rainfall by July 20, we are readying ourselves with contingency plans in the event of drought. We will assess the situation again later this month before the state government takes any final call on whether drought has to be declared or not.” He said with 48 per cent deficit as per IMD and 58.1 per cent deficit as per statistical directorate, the situation is very alarming.
As part of contingency plans, the Animal and Fisheries Department has identified places to open 1,312 animal camps.
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