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Drought in 11 districts: Buddha urges PM for funds

A day after 11 districts were identified as drought-hit, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today drew the attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on urgent allotment of funds under MGNREGS.



Kolkata: A day after 11 districts were
identified as drought-hit, West Bengal Chief Minister
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today drew the attention of Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh on urgent allotment of funds under
MGNREGS.

"Our state is suffering from heavy shortfall of rain,
more particularly in the rice-producing areas, where the
rainfall deficit is about 30 per cent, in some districts it is
more than 40 per cent," Bhattacharjee said in a letter to
Singh.

"We have requested Union Agriculture Minister Sharad
Pawar to send a team of experts so that possible measures for
cultivation of alternate crop and relief can be undertaken.

"With shortage in availability in agricultural job in
rural areas, demand for job under MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) had increased
manifold," he said.

In such a desperate situation, Bhattacharjee said,
most of the districts were unable to make payment under
MGNREGS in absence of funds and there is a serious threat of
social unrest in these drought-hit areas.

"Against total fund availability of Rs 1,165 crore so
far, this year under MGNREGS an amount of Rs 949 crore had
already been spent," he said.

"The matter was taken up with the ministry of rural
development at various levels, However, only a meagre amount
of Rs 170 crore has been released against our balance fund
requirement of Rs 1,400 crore."

Bhattacharjee requested the prime minister to
instruct immediate release of the balance amount of second
tranche of central share so that the state government "is in
a position to meet its immediate legal obligation to provide
employment and disburse wages as per provisions of the Act".

In his letter to Pawar, he also apprised him of the
current agricultural situation following deficit rainfall of
30 per cent or more in the state.

"It is estimated that out of the targeted area of
about 44 lakh hectares to be covered during khariff season in
the state, about 11 lakh hectares may remain uncovered. This
has not happened in recent past and has become a matter of
grave concern for us," Bhattacharjee said.

Non-availability of water from the big irrigation
systems like DVC, Kangsabati and Mython etc has further
contributed to the crisis owing to drying up of canals, tanks
and depleting sub-soil water levels, he said.

Under the situation, the state government was trying
to work out an emergency plan for growing alternative crops
during post-kharif and pre-Rabi seasons in order to protect
some of the lost kharif cultivation.

Even as the state government already sanctioned Rs 50
crore from the state calamity relief fund as well as state`s
Plan Budget, the quantum of expenditure was bound to go up
significantly during the coming months, he said.

PTI

From Zee News

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