New Delhi: Even as more states sought central assistance to handle the fallout of drought and mitigate farm distress, the home ministry on Monday approved 1,540 crore for Karnataka, the first state to declare a drought in August.

According to the state government’s assessment, Karnataka suffered a damage of 14,471 crore in over 3.2 million hectares of crop area because of the drought.

Karnataka had asked the centre for an assistance of 3050 crore in September after declaring 27 out of 30 districts in the state as drought hit. Since then, more states have declared a drought and asked for central relief. This include a demand of 3500 crore made by Odisha, 2400 crore by Madhya Pradesh, 4000 crore by Chhattisgarh and 4,330 crore by Maharashtra.

Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand has admitted to drought in parts of the state but is yet to seek central assistance.

A committee chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh approved the central assistance for Karnataka from the National Disaster Relief Fund, the home ministry said in a statement. Gujarat was provided 562 crore for losses due to floods, it added.

The decision on assistance was taken after a central team assessed the situation on ground, the ministry said.

Other than Karnataka, the centre sent teams to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, said agriculture secretary Siraj Hussain. “For Chhattisgarh, the team has completed the assessment and now a team is visiting Madhya Pradesh," Hussain said, adding, “the centre is yet to receive detailed memorandum for assistance from Odisha and Maharashtra."

For the entire country, the June-September southwest monsoon recorded a deficit of 14%, with as many as 302 out of 640 districts recording a shortfall of 20% or more. This is the second consecutive year of drought, worsening rural distress across the country; last year, the monsoon deficit was 12%.

States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which together account for 91 rainfall deficient districts, are yet to take a call on declaring a drought. Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana too witnessed deficit rain in parts, but are yet to notify a drought.

The second straight year of drought is likely to dent production of rain-fed crops such as pulses, soybean, cotton and coarse grains, and dip farm incomes further. Earlier this year in March, India’s spring harvest suffered widespread damage because of unseasonal rain across 18 states.

Besides weather woes, farm incomes are also affected due to lower prices of key crops like rice, wheat and cotton.

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