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West Bengal drought loss estimated at 6,435 crore

Special Correspondent


“600 crore Central aid needed”

Central team to assess situation


KOLKATA: Drought-hit West Bengal on Friday estimated its losses arising out of an inadequate monsoon at Rs.6,435 crores, saying that it needed Central funds amounting to Rs.600 crore to complement the Rs.354 crore kitty set up by the State Government to tackle the situation on a war footing. The immediate need for funds has been assessed at Rs.954 crore.

Briefing reporters after a meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjea, Finance Minister Asim Kumar Dasgupta said that an eight-member Central study team would arrive here to assess the situation which has caused widespread damage not only to the farm sector but also to minor irrigation projects, fisheries and drinking water projects.

Dr. Dasgupta said that besides two top agriculture scientists, the meeting was attended by three ministers – Agriculture Minister Naren De, Rural Development Minister Mortaza Hossein and Animal Husbandry Minister Narayan Biswas.

One of the major points discussed at the meeting was how to generate employment in the 11 districts affected by poor monsoons. “There is a need to adopt a long-term perspective. Not only foodgrains but also those engaged in cultivating vegetables, managing fisheries and animal husbandry projects have been affected and there is an urgent need to create jobs,” the Finance Minister said. The fisheries sector has suffered a loss of Rs.153 crore, show estimates.

The meeting also emphasised the need for adopting less water-intensive agriculture practices in the State, especially in case of paddy cultivation and also advise farmers to take up cultivation of alternative crops. The State Government has decided to send a memorandum on this entire matter to the Centre and place its case for funds allotment.

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