Bihar Likely to Declare Some Districts ‘Drought-hit’
A man walks on a parched bed in drought-affected Vena Dam on a hot summer day in Nagpur. Representational Image. Image Courtesy: ANI
Patna: As light rains lashed a part of Bihar after a long dry spell, fears of another drought have returned to haunt thousands of farmers. Cultivators have been facing an acute water crisis during Sawan as well as Bhadon due to poor monsoon this time.
As per the rainfall data so far, it is clear that the state recorded a significant deficit in rainfall. This badly hit the transplantation of paddy seedlings, and those farmers who had transplanted paddy struggled to irrigate. An official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Centre, Patna, said that Bihar recorded 390.1 millimetres (mm) of rainfall from June 1 to August 18. This was nearly 41% less than the normal 669.9 mm of rainfall.
Taking this into consideration, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on Saturday, for the second consecutive day, undertook an aerial survey of several districts facing drought-like situations. Kumar, on Friday, flew over Jehanabad, Gaya and Aurangabad districts and on Saturday, flew over Munger, Jamui and Lakhisarai districts.
Kumar has reportedly asked district officials to ensure an uninterrupted power supply for 16 hours in rural areas for farmers to help them irrigate their standing paddy crops, which are in need of water. He also directed the concerned officials to provide seeds for alternative crops to farmers.
The State government is likely to declare some districts as drought-hit next week as an over 41% rainfall deficit has severely affected the paddy crop, an official said on Saturday. “The government is seriously considering declaring some districts drought-hit. The final decision would be taken at the next cabinet meeting,” an official of the state disaster management department said.
Bihar’s new agriculture minister Sudhakar Singh has admitted that the drought-like situation is alarming in some parts and has already announced that the government will declare them as 'drought-hit' to provide them adequate compensation.
Farmers in nearly half a dozen districts, including Jamui, Banka, Sheikhpura, Munger, Nawada, Gaya, and Aurangabad, are also demanding to declare them drought-hit as there is a lack of water for paddy cultivation due to poor monsoon so far.
According to the state agriculture department officials, the drought-like situation is bad in nearly a dozen districts of Jamui, Banka, Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad, Sheikhpura, and Munger.
So far, the paddy seedlings have been transplanted in 29 lakh hectares out of a total target of 35.12 lakh hectares for paddy cultivation this year. But the official figures for transplantation of paddy seedlings are meagre in Jamui and Banka, followed by others.
Those farmers who have transplanted paddy seedlings are worried about saving standing crops and upset over the poor power supply and no water in canals.
An official of the water resources department (WRD) said that as rains are less than normal this year, most of the 23 reservoirs in the state are either dry or have little water because they are rainfed. Similarly, dozens of small rivers are dry, and most of the canals are also dry.
Since last month, lakhs of farmers, mostly small and marginal across Bihar, have been upset as clouds come and go without drops of rain. It is contrary to their expectation. Farmers were hopeful of a normal monsoon, like in 2021 and 2020 when Bihar received surplus rainfall in June-July and paddy output increased. Monsoon typically hits the state between June 12 and 14.
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