Kerala to be declared drought-hit

Drought (representative picutre)Thiruvananthapuram: Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan told the Assembly on Monday that all districts in the State would be declared drought-hit.

Responding to a notice for adjournment motion from V. S. Sivakumar (Congress) on drought conditions in the State, the Minister said that the rainfall during South West monsoon was deficient by 34 per cent.  There was also drop in rainfall in October -- it was 69 per cent lower than the normal. Even if the North East monsoon is normal, the State would face a shortfall in rainfall.

The State Disaster Management Authority, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, had decided to declare the entire State as drought-hit on October 28.

The Minister said that the State would be submitting a memorandum to the Centre for assistance if the situation worsens. Directions had been issued to the collectors to take steps for conservation of water and prevent misuse. The national disaster management force was already seized of the matter and would be taking mitigative measures. Its officials would also apprise the Centre of the situation.

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that a delegation led by ministers should approach the Centre and urge it to send a team to assess the situation. Special efforts should be taken to convince the team that drought in Kerala was different from that in the north.

Speaking on his notice, Mr. Sivakumar said that Kerala was facing drinking water shortages and crop loss. The drop in rainfall was 60 per cent in places such as Wayanad. Palakkad, Idukki and Wayanad already faced drinking water shortage. The water level in Sasthamkotta Lake in Kollam district had come down from 33 feet to 14 feet.

He also called for declaration of a moratorium of agriculture loans and measures to protect water sources from despoilment.