Following demands by farmers and opposition parties to declare Tamil Nadu a drought-hit state, chief minister O. Panneerselvam said on Tuesday that a high-level committee will be formed to assess the extent of farm distress.
“Except Chennai, the district collectors of other districts have been asked to submit report on the status of the crops and the drought situation in their respective districts. The high-level committee which will also consist of the ministers and other senior bureaucrats will submit the report on 10 January,” Panneerselvam said in a statement.
Financial aid to distressed farmers would be based on the report.
Also Read: Is Tamil Nadu heading towards drought?
Mint reported in November that with the cumulative rainfall for October and November at 10cm, Tamil Nadu was staring at the prospect of its worst drought since 1876.
The north-east monsoon accounts for nearly 50% of Tamil Nadu’s annual rainfall, with the peak month being November.
The October-December north-east monsoon usually accounts to 440mm of rainfall. But this year, the rainfall in these three months was just 168.3mm. Of the 32 districts in the state, 21 districts had a rainfall deficit of more than 60%. The other 11 districts had a deficit of 35-59%.
As Karnataka refused to release Tamil Nadu’s share of Cauvery water, the minimal discharge of water from Mettur dam—the entry point in Tamil Nadu from where it is released to farmers—has not helped farming. The failure of the north-east monsoon only added to the distress.
The Cauvery delta zone, which includes Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts, depends on the Cauvery waters for irrigation.