Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has announced that a drought will be declared in all districts of the state following a deficient Northeast monsoon. His statement released to the media, comes days after farmers protested across the state demanding that Tamil Nadu be declared drought-hit.
The announcement also comes after a high-level committee was set up by the Chief Minister to assess the drought situation and the crop loss in the state. The committee that was set up on January 3 and comprised senior bureaucrats visited different districts and submitted their report on January 9.
In the press statement released, Panneerselvam noted that an advisory meeting was held on Monday attended, following which a number of decisions with regard to drought were taken. This includes waiving land tax for farmers and converting crop loans taken by farmers from cooperative and commercial banks into medium turn loans. The Chief Minister also said that a plea would be made to the Centre for drought relief funds.
While farmers’ groups peg the number of farmer suicide and deaths to over 60 owing to drought and crop loss, the Chief Minister stated that 17 farmers have killed themselves in the last two months.
“Although the reasons for suicide are varied, the government will give Rs 3 lakh to each of the families affected from the Chief Minister’s relief fund,” stated Panneerselvam. Referring to media reports of farmers dying out of shock, he said that a detailed report from district collectors has been sought. Following this, he said families of these farmers will also be awarded compensation.
While the Panneerselvam promised employment opportunities to people in rural areas who are affected by drought, the Chief Minister also said employment opportunities will be created for farmers under MNREGA with an increase in the number of days to 150.
The state government also noted that Rs 3400 crore will be spent dredging all water bodies. Meanwhile, owing to drinking water scarcity, the Tamil Nadu government will spend Rs 160 crore on urban drinking water supply and Rs 350 crore in rural areas. In addition, the state will also spend Rs 25 crore to increase ground water.
Source: The News Minute