Maharashtra and Karnataka are facing a severe drought this year, according to data from the Union Ministry of Agriculture. Twenty-four out of 30 districts (80 per cent) in Karnataka and 26 out of 36 districts (72 per cent) in Maharashtra are reeling under water scarcity and crop failure.
Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Rajasthan have also reported drought. In all, over 1.95 crore hectares in these six States have been affected and their governments have sought ₹16,773 crore in aid from the Centre to tackle the situation.
The severity of the drought is worst in Maharashtra with an area of 85.76 lakh hectares, which is 44 per cent of the total affected area, in the State. This will have a direct impact on over 82 lakhfarmers in Maharashtra. The State government has asked for ₹7,522 crore in aid saying that more districts could be added to the list of drought-affected ones.
“During 2018-19, the State governments of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Rajasthan have submitted memorandums in the wake of drought during kharif. Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) have been consisted to visit all these drought-affected States to assess the damage and recommend financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund,” said the Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh in a written reply to a question raised in the Lok Sabha.
The Odisha government also declared drought during kharif 2018, but it has not submitted any memorandum to the Centre.
Per the existing procedure, the report/recommendations of the IMCT are placed before the Sub-Committee of the National Executive Committee (SC-NEC). Therefore, the recommendations of the SC-NEC are considered by the High Level Committee and, accordingly, aid is provided to the States.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has stated that to take relief measures for restoration of drinking water supply in drought-hit areas, as per National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) provisions, States may utilise up to 25 per cent of NRDWP funds as flexi funds, in case of a natural calamity.
States can also take long-term measures using NRDWP funds to provide a permanent solution to drinking water problems in such areas.