West Bengal govt assessing situation before declaring drought

The situation in the several districts is \"pretty bad\", state Agriculture minister Purnendu Basu said

Kolkata: With almost no rain in the last two months and temperature hovering near 50 degrees Celsius in many districts of West Bengal, the state government is taking stock of the situation there before declaring them drought-hit.

The situation in the several districts, especially Purulia, West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan, is "pretty bad", state Agriculture minister Purnendu Basu told PTI.

"Crops are damaged because of no rainfall and water bodies have dried up resulting in massive water crisis in these four districts. We have sought reports from the concerned departments before declaring which districts are drought-hit. We will take a decision by next week," Basu said.

According to him, the DMO's report on the situation in each of the 19 districts has been sought. While the report of Purulia district is complete, compilation in other districts is on and will be over in another couple of days.

"These reports will help us estimate the crop loss in these places and accordingly help us plan how to compensate the farmers. And depending on them , we will also be able to place our demands before the Centre," Basu said.

He alleged that the Centre had not responded to the state's plea last year for relief for drought-hit districts.

The Agriculture minister pointed out that a farmer would be compensated if only more than 33 per cent of his crop was destroyed.

Talking about damage to crops, Basu said that cultivation of boro paddy, maize and pulses would be badly affected if the current "drought-like" situation continued for another couple of weeks.

"The situation will surely improve if there is some rainfall for a week or so. Definitely, we are praying for rains and the total situation will reverse," he said.

The Supreme Court last week criticised the role of few state governments for their "ostrich-like attitude" in declaring drought despite having a rainfall deficit.

( Source : PTI )
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