A long hard summer and insufficient rainfall finally took its toll on the Bihar farmer who stared at a drought all through the kharif season. The State cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal of the Disaster Management department to declare 33 of the State’s 38 districts drought-hit.

The decision was taken in view of the serious the situation created on account of a deficient and erratic monsoon in 2013, an official press release said.

From June 1 to September 11 this year, Bihar received 25 per cent less rainfall at 668.6 mm as compared to the annual average rainfall of 892.2 mm. As a result there was a marked fall in the paddy sowing, thus adversely affecting paddy cultivation.

The rainfall scarcity has significantly depleted the underground water table creating drought conditions. Cattle rearing and employment generation have also taken a big hit.

The government has begun to mobilise funds from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).

In light of the situation, the State government has stayed the collection of land rent and cess, irrigation charge, electricity bills and cooperative loans from the farmers in affected districts for the year 2013-14. In addition, relief measures would also be taken to salvage the standing crops, grow alternative crops, generate means of employment and take steps to tend the cattle.

The drought-affected affected districts are: Patna, Bhojpur, Buxar, Kaimur, Nalanda, Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Nawada, Munger, Sheikhpura, Lakhisarai, Jamui, Begusarai, Khagaria, Purnea, Katihar, Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul, Bhagalpur, Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Vaishali, Sheohar, East and West Champaran, Madhubani, Darbhanga and Samastipur.

The declaration of widespread drought comes close on the heels of floods in 12 districts of the State. The Opposition parties had staged a walkout during the monsoon session of the State Assembly in July demanding the government to declare drought in the State. The monsoon activity did not pick up in August. There was a scare caused by the prediction of “havoc rain” in September, the severity of which was later reduced.

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