Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Wednesday declared 42 more talukas or administrative units as drought-affected.
The latest addition takes the total number of drought-affected talukas to 110 (68 were announced drought-affected last week). There are 177 talukas in Karnataka across 30 districts.
T.B. Jayachandra, law and parliamentary affairs minister of Karnataka, said that within the next few months another 50 talukas could be added to this list, taking the total to around 160 compared to last year when 140 talukas were declared drought-affected.
“This year the drought is worse than last year,” Jayachandra said on Wednesday after the cabinet meeting, which approved the latest addition to the list of drought-affected talukas.
The state received 233 mm of rainfall in July as against the average of 280 mm, a deficiency of 17%, while in August, recorded rains were 126 mm as against the average of 206 mm or a deficiency of 39%, according to data by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Corporation.
Karnataka was the first state to declare drought last year as well.
The state government issued an advisory earlier this year, discouraging farmers from cultivating water-intensive crops in view of the acute water shortage due to almost six years of deficient rainfall.
As a result, the total area of cultivation in Karnataka has come down from 96,200 hectares (for major crops, including paddy, sugarcane, ragi, maize and pulses) to 61,600 hectares this year, according to the state agriculture department.
The Cauvery basin, which provides all water needs for over six districts in south interior Karnataka, has also run dry with only around 34 tmcft of water remaining in all four dams of the river. The region requires around 24 tmcft of water only for drinking and around 42 tmcft of water for irrigation purposes. This has forced the government to pass a resolution prioritising drinking water over agricultural use and rejuvenation of lakes.
Jayachandra said that regions that have at least 20% deficient rainfall, 50% less moisture in the ground, have experienced at least four weeks of dry spell and recorded a minimum of 33% crop loss qualified to be declared drought-hit.
Though some regions in North Karnataka have received good rains in the last few weeks, much of the crops have been destroyed due to untimely rains.
The state government will now review the ground-level situation and consider compensation for farmers, Jayachandra said. An amount of Rs.75 crore has been released to all district collectors to ensure that assistance is provided to drought-hit farmers.