The Karnataka Government has decided to set up telemetric rain gauging centres in all 5600 gram panchayats for accurate measurement of rainfall as part of steps to determine drought conditions, Minister for Revenue G. Karunakara Reddy informed the state assembly on Wednesday.

The work on setting up of such centres has already begun, he said while replying to the two-day debate on scarcity conditions that has hit the state due to failure of the monsoon.

Though the state had earlier declared 86 taluks in 20 districts as drought hit, revival of rains in parts of the state last month has helped ease considerably the drinking water problem. Now only seven taluks have reported deficient rains, he said.

Mr. Reddy said out of the 72 lakh hectares of land which was to be sown during the kharif season, sowing could be taken up only in 62 lakh hectares. Sown crop in 20 lakh hecatres withered for want of rains.

The farmers taking advantage of rains in August have undertaken sowing in 13 lakh hectares out of 20 lakh where crops dried up, Mr. Reddy said.

The government had released Rs. 135 crore disbursed by the Centre for relief operations, he said, but did not quantify the state amount.

He said the government wants to consider gram panchayat as a unit instead of the existing practice of Hobli (villages of a taluk grouped into smaller clusters) for declaring as drought hit while calculating crop loss. A sum of Rs. 428 crore has been spent on the NREGP this year, he said.