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Jayalalithaa seeks Rs 1,680-cr drought aid

Our Bureau

Chennai , Aug. 29

THE Tamil Nadu Government has sought from the Centre Rs 1,680 crore assistance to tide over the continued drought caused by the deficiency of the South West monsoon.

The Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa, in a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has sought financial assistance of Rs 1,680 crore and additional food grain allocation of 5.4 lakh tonnes to help the State Government tackle the drought continuing for the third year. The South West monsoon has failed in large parts of the State leading to an acute water shortage in Chennai and in a number of districts.

The Government said that a Central team may be deputed to assess the situation to extend the financial assistance and food grain allocation.

The letter, a text of which was released to the press, drew the Prime Minister's attention to the 53 per cent shortfall in the ongoing South West monsoon in Chennai, and the rainfall deficit of 64 per cent in Kanchipuram and 64 per cent in Thiruvallur.

Therefore, water has to be transported into Chennai by tankers from afar, and the State is incurring an extra expenditure of Rs 27 crore a month to maintain minimum supplies.

In a number of districts, rainfall was 40 per cent lower than normal. According to the rainfall data, the actual rainfall in the State between June 1 and August 18 was less than normal by 26 per cent and in 18 out of 30 districts the shortfall was 20 per cent, indicating the emerging drought situation in 2004-05, the letter said.

The State has fully utilised the Rs 292.95 crore sanctioned for drought relief operations for 2003-04 and the 3.04-lakh tonnes of rice for the food-for-work programme.

According to a press release, giving the components of the assistance for Rs 1,680 crore, the State has sought Rs 353.77 crore as input subsidy to farmers, affected in 2003-04, to take up sowing; Rs 49.32 crore input subsidy to farmers for areas unsown in `Kuruvai' 2004-05; Rs 32 crore relief to coconut farmers; Rs 578.14 crore as waiver of overdue interest on cooperative loans; Rs 105 crore cash support for employment generation to farm labourers; Rs 500 crore assistance to Metro Water to maintain supply to Chennai; and Rs 64.78 crore to provide drinking water to other districts.

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