30 more taluks likely to be declared drought-hit

The State government is likely to declare 30 more taluks in the State as drought-hit, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Jayachandra, who heads a Cabinet committee on drought and natural calamities, said scanty and erratic rainfall prompted the government to consider these taluks, in addition to the 98 taluks declared drought-affected. He said the State government has already sought Rs 1,014 crore funds from the Centre to take up drought relief work in the State.

An inter-ministerial Central team visited 14 districts in December to assess the drought situation in the State. Ragi, jowar and sunflower crops had been majorily hit.

Jayachandra said 800 villages were facing drinking water shortage and another 1,800 villages had been classified as fluoride-critical. A  deflouridisation programme at a cost of Rs 180 crore had been taken up, he said. Jayachandra said Agriculture Price Commission will be constituted to advise the government on price policy of major agricultural commodities. The recommendation, made by a Cabinet committee headed by him to work out the modalities for setting up the commission, will be placed before the Cabinet during the next meeting, he said.

The commission will be headed by an expert in the field of agriculture and will have two progressive farmers and two officials as its members.

It will have powers to intervene to help the farmers whenever prices of any agricultural produce crash, besides recommending on issues pertaining to crop pattern and nutrient management.  The menace of middlemen will be curtailed, he said.

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