Panneerselvam writes to Modi, seeks Rs 39,565 crore for TN drought relief

Panneerselvam said the government had to provide relief to farmers for damage caused to crops due to failure of monsoon.

Chennai: Drought-hit Tamil Nadu on Monday urged the Centre to sanction Rs 39,565 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund towards mitigation measures, with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam seeking Rs 1,000 crore urgently as the state government does not have sufficient funds to meet the challenge.

Panneerselvam also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to depute a Central team "to study the extensive damage caused to agriculture crops and to take stock of the drinking water scarcity in the state".

A detailed memorandum on the drought situation in the state, besides a letter from Panneerselvam to the Prime Minister, was handed over at the PMO in New Delhi by Relief Commissioner and Commissioner of Revenue Administration K Satyagopal and Revenue Secretary B Chandra Mohan.

In his letter, a copy of which was released in Chennai, Panneerselvam said Tamil Nadu experienced a 62 per cent deficient northeast monsoon, following the 20 per cent deficiency in southwest monsoon.

All 32 districts in the state had received rainfall which was "scanty or deficient and the range is from 35 per cent to 81 per cent," he said, adding, the state has already been declared drought-hit.

The drought situation was "exacerbated" by 'non-release' of water by Karnataka as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal's final order. The upper riparian state had released only 66 tmcft as against total quantum of 179 TMC feet of water due between June 1 and December 31, 2016, he said.

As a result, he said, storage in Mettur Dam, the main reservoir which serves the Cauvery Delta, was "grossly insufficient" to save even a single paddy crop in the state's Cauvery Basin.

Panneerselvam said the government had to provide relief to farmers for damage caused to crops due to failure of the monsoon and to ensure drinking water supply through various temporary measures to tackle the water scarcity in the state.

"Moreover, adequate fodder availability needs to be maintained to protect cattle and the small ruminant population. Employment generation programmes have to be taken up on a war footing to ensure that livelihood of agricultural labourers is protected. For the above purposes, I request that a sum of Rs 39,565 crore may be sanctioned from the National

Disaster Response Fund," Panneerselvam said.

The state government was not having sufficient funds following expenditure post December 2015 floods and last month's Cyclone Vardah, he said.

"The funds available with the state government in the State Disaster Response Fund are not sufficient to meet the situation. The state is in urgent need of assistance from NDRF to take up immediate relief and rehabilitation measures in the state," he said.

"Hence, I request you to urgently sanction the release of an on account payment of Rs 1,000 crore from NDRF to the Government of Tamil Nadu to enable taking up immediate relief and rehabilitation measures to mitigate the drought situation," he said in the letter to Modi.

The Chief Minister said he had reviewed the situation and ordered a detailed assessment of the drought situation by Ministers, District Collectors and officials.

Following inspection, 13,305 of 16,682 Revenue villages in the state have been identified as drought affected.

The situation was likely to worsen in the coming months as the North-East monsoon has come to an end and further rains are not part of the normal pattern, he said.

Due to the failure of the South West and North-East monsoons in 2016-17, storage position in all the water bodies was at a 'critical level,' Panneerselvam said.

"As against the total storage capacity of 198.384 TMC ft. in 15 major irrigation reservoirs in the state, the water available as on 31.12.2016 is only 25.742 TMC ft," he said.

The combined storage in four drinking water reservoirs catering to the state capital, Chennai was "only 1.966 TMC ft. as on 31.12.2016 as compared to 10.339 TMC ft. at the same time in 2015," he added.

( Source : PTI )
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