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Drought: teams to meet officials today

By Our Special Correspondent

GULBARGA, DEC. 19. The three Central teams touring the drought-hit areas in the State to assess the extent of damage to standing crops, will meet senior officials of the State Government, including the Chief Secretary, on Monday before leaving for New Delhi.

The Director of the Rural Development Department, Venkatesan, who is leading the two-member team that is assessing the drought in Bidar, Gulbarga and Raichur districts, said here today that the team will start preparing a report on its return to New Delhi and submit it to the Union Government at the earliest. The team, which was supposed to visit the drought-hit areas in Raichur, cut short its tour and left for Hyderabad en route Bangalore after holding discussions with senior officials of Raichur.

Skips Raichur

Mr. Venkatesan said the team decided to skip Raichur as it found that the situation in all the three districts is almost the same. The team is convinced that the drought situation in all the three districts is acute and needs immediate intervention, he added.

He noted that the farmers are in dire straits owing to the failure of rain, particularly in August, which has affected pod formation in red gram, which is the major crop in the region.

Mr. Venkatesan said drinking water supply is likely to be hit in the three districts from January owing to the steep fall in the groundwater table. Similarly, the availability of fodder is also likely to come down, he added.

He complimented the district administrations, particularly that of Gulbarga, for taking measures to grow high yielding variety of fodder in the district.

Crop losses

On the crop losses in the three districts, Mr. Venkatesan said that according to the team's study, the loss ranged from 30 per cent to 80 per cent.

The crops have been damage both at the germination stage and the pod-formation stage owing to the failure of the rainfall, he added.

Another area of concern is the migration of agriculture labourers from the affected areas, he said. The State Government has been asked to take measures to arrest the migration by taking up employment generation projects under the Swarna Jayanti Rozgar Yojana and other Centrally assisted programmes, he added.

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