Bihar stares at drought again

Patna, July 30 (IANS) Bihar plans to declare more than two dozen districts drought hit soon, with the state already recording a 20 percent rainfall deficit, officials said Friday.

An official in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s office said the decision was likely to be taken in the next cabinet meeting in a day or two. ‘The government has made up its mind to declare some districts drought hit,’ the official told IANS.

The government has asked all district magistrates of areas with scanty rains to submit their reports by Friday evening. ‘On the basis of their reports, the government will take a final decision,’ an official said.

Official sources said a high level meeting of the state disaster management department chaired by Chief Secretary Anup Mukharjee was held here Thursday, with the poor monsoon triggering fears of another drought in Bihar.

Officials say paddy transplantation is badly hit in the districts of Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal and Nawada, which had been declared drought hit last year following a rainfall deficit of 29 percent.

Farmers are also complaining that there is no water in the canals for irrigation. A large part of central Bihar is irrigated by water from the Sone river and regulated through canals.

Last year, the government declared 26 of 37 districts drought-hit following poor rains.

So far paddy transplantation has been completed in 11 lakh hectares against a targeted 35 lakh hectares, officials say. ‘By the end of July, paddy transplantation would have been completed, but scanty rains have forced farmers to stay away from the field,’ an official said.

‘Poor rains coupled with non-availability of groundwater have already delayed paddy transplantation in large parts of the state and in some districts paddy sowing has been badly hit,’ an agriculture department official said.

According to the meteorological office, Bihar has recorded a rainfall deficit of 20 percent so far.

The Arwal district recorded a rainfall deficit of 60 percent, Kaimur 50 percent, Nalanda 44 percent, Patna 36 percent and Bhagalpur 40 percent. Monsoon normally hits the state between June 12 to June 14. While the rains have begun, they have been scanty.

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