AP facing worst drought in five decades

AP facing worst drought in five decades

The rainfall deficit in the state is 52 per cent, the highest in the last several decades. It has affected the entire state, with the exception of two or three districts.

A power crisis, too, is looming large over the state with major power generating stations getting poor inflows. This is likely to hit the Congress government’s election promise of supplying nine hours of free power to the agriculture sector from August 15, two hours more than what is being given since the 2004 elections.

Crops drying up

According to official estimates, less than half of the normal area of 79 lakh ha has been sown during the kharif season.

Out of the 38 lakh ha land, crops in about 9.5 lakh ha have either dried up or are drying up.

The affected crops include paddy, sugar cane, cotton, maize, pulses, soyabean, groundnut and sunflower, among other vegetables.  In the rice bowl districts of East Godavari and West Godavari, paddy was sown in a mere 50 per cent of the normal area.

The failure of rain has also hit about 15 lakh tribal families in the north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam as the yield of forest produce is expected to fall drastically due to the drought.

Each family earns Rs 7,000-8,000 every season by collecting forest produce and supplying it to the government-run procurement agencies. The Opposition parties have attacked the government for the delay in declaring drought and failure to help the affected people.

The principal Opposition, Telugu Desam Party, has alleged that 65 farmers have committed suicide due to crop failure.

Farmer ends life

However, only one suicide, that of 25-year-old Govind Nenawat in a tribal hamlet of Nizamabad district, has been confirmed. Govind had a debt of about Rs 2 lakh and was hoping to repay a substantial part of it by selling his crop.

Rain failed, and his paddy crop dried up. Disheartened, Govind hanged himself from a tree in his field.

All is not lost, if officials are to be believed. If the state gets rain in the next 10 days before the kharif season draws to a close, at least the drying crops can be saved.

They are pinning hope on the low pressure developing in the Bay of Bengal that is expected bring rain in the next 48 hours, according to the Met department. This can bring some relief to the people, who are on the brink of despair.