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Central team to tour drought-hit areas

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, DEC. 4. The Minister for Revenue, M.P. Prakash, today said a team of officials from the Centre would be touring drought-hit areas in the State from December 12 to make an assessment of the situation. The team's visit comes in the wake of the State Government seeking special assistance from the Centre for drought relief works.

Dry conditions

He told presspersons here that dry conditions prevailed in 80 of the 176 taluks in the State because of inadequate rainfall though overall the rainfall had improved this year. "The situation is not as bad as last year."

Mr. Prakash, who reviewed the drought situation at a Cabinet subcommittee meeting, said there would be three groups of officials who would visit the affected areas.

About 88 villages, of which over 50 were in Kolar, were facing a shortage of drinking water. The Government was making efforts to supply drinking water to these villages through tankers. The Centre, he said, had released Rs. 34 crores from the Calamity Relief Fund, an allocation from the previous year. The Government had taken over 162 private borewells in the State after paying compensation to its owners to provide drinking water.

Mr. Prakash mentioned that as per the data given by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the State had received 39 per cent deficient rainfall during the rabi season because of the poor northeast monsoon.

The Government, he said, was thinking of preventing farmers from cultivating water-intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane with water from borewells. The Government would distribute free fodder to small and marginal farmers and they would be encouraged to grow fodder species such as African Tall and Matti.

Curbs relaxed

The restrictions imposed on the inter-zonal movement of foodgrains, he said, would be relaxed and officials could now lift two lakh tonnes of rice. The curbs were imposed following the discovery of the rice diversion racket in the food-for-work programme.

The Cabinet subcommittee would meet every fortnight to review the drought situation.

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