Ranchi/Kolkata: Drought in eastern parts
of the country spread to more areas with all the 24 districts
in Jharkhand and 11 districts in West Bengal being declared
drought-hit by the respective state governments today.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had yesterday declared
entire Bihar as drought-hit.
Deficient rainfall has been blamed for the drought
conditions in Bihar and Jharkand and parts of West Bengal.
Officials in Ranchi said the decision to declare the
entire Jharkand drought hit was taken by Governor M O H
Farook`s advisory council. The mineral-rich state is currently
under President`s rule.
A fortnight ago, the Jharkand government had declared
only 12 districts as drought-hit before adding four more to
the list a couple of days ago.
All the district administrations have been asked to
speed up relief measures, the officials said.
The West Bengal government declared 11 districts in the
state as drought-hit and allocated Rs 50 crore to tackle the
situation caused by poor monsoon.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired
by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the Writers`
Buildings, Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said in Kolkata.
According to Dasgupta, Bhattacharjee would soon write
to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar requesting him to
despatch a central team to study the situation.
He said the districts had nearly 30 per cent less-
than-normal rainfall causing the drought situation.
"There has been severe damage to the kharif crop in
11 districts," he said, adding the government was seriously
considering converting farmers` short-term loans into
"Subsidy for irrigable areas will be Rs 4,000 crore
and that for non-irrigable areas Rs 2,000 crore," Dasgupta
He, however, ruled out any food scarcity due to the
drought situation in the 11 districts and promised to take
stern action in case there were attempts to create artificial
scarcity of foodgrains.
The dought-hit districts are Purulia, Bankura,
Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan (known as the rice-bowl of
West Bengal), Hooghly, North and South 24 Parganas, West
Midnapore, Nadia and Malda.
Nitish Kumar while declaring entire Bihar as
drought-hit yesterday said his government was taking various
measures to provide relief to the affected farmers.
"Bihar is facing natural calamity for the fourth year
in succession ... While the state faced devastating floods in
2007 and 2008, drought has hit the state for the second year
in succession," he said yesterday.
The state government had on August 3 declared 28 out of
the 38 districts in Bihar as drought hit.
Those declared affected yesterday were Saharsa, Supaul,
Purnea Madhepura, West Champaran, Gopalganj, Khagaria,
Kishanganj, Araria and Katihar.
Kumar said as a first step towards providing relief to
the affected farmers, the state government had postponed
recovery of cooperative loans, land rent cess, irrigation
taxes and electricity surcharge related to agriculture for
It has sanctioned Rs 570 crore for diesel subsidy to
farmers at the rate of Rs 20 per litre, besides ordering
uninterrupted power supply in rural areas so that farmers
could irrigate their parched fields. The government will also
generate jobs under MNREGA, he said.