Rajasthan has asked for the Centre’s support and intervention in fighting severe drought conditions in the State which has recorded a 36 per cent deficit in rainfall this monsoon season against the national deficit of 25 per cent.

The vast desert State has asked the Centre for funds totalling Rs.12,690.99 crore to provide employment, medical facilities, power generation and water for humans and animals in 32,833 villages spread over 26 districts declared drought-affected on the basis of a special girdawari (assessment of crop loss) carried out on August 10.

As a follow-up on the memorandum submitted at the Chief Ministers’ conference in Delhi on August 17, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has written two separate letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for his intervention in additional allocation of wheat, increase in entitlement for employment under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) from the existing 100 days to 200 days in the scarcity-affected districts and support for the cooperative banks by way of additional financial resources and interest subvention to enable the banks to advance credit to eligible farmers.

Mr. Gehlot has asked for free transportation of drinking water and fodder through the rail route into the State and within the State and making free availability of diesel by public sector oil units to transport drinking water by road on tankers. “In the past the Government of India has assisted the State Government in transportation of drinking water by directing the Railways to provide for free transportation,” he pointed out in the letter.

“The contingency plan of drinking water indicates that water would have to be transported in 145 towns and 22,454 villages/habitats across the State,” he added.

Thirty out of the 33 districts in Rajasthan received deficit rainfall during the season. In fact, 108 out of the 269 big dams—with a capacity of 150 million cubic feet—are empty and 183 out of the 346 small dams with a capacity of less than 150 MCFT are empty. The combined volume of water available in the large dams stands approximately at one-third of their combined storage whereas the combined storage of small dams at present is only one-eighth of their capacity.

Terming the Calamity Relief Fund of Rs.413.19 crore available in the current year “grossly inadequate” for the State where all the divisions have experienced a rainfall deficit, Mr. Gehlot said additional funds would be required to overcome the crisis ahead.

“Even after taking into account the availability of funds under the National Calamity Contingency Fund, additional financial assistance as mentioned in the interim memorandum would be required,” he said.

The total funds available under CRF are Rs.160.59 crore, excluding the second instalment of Rs.189.45 crore which is due in January-February next year. The figure of Rs.413.19 crore includes the State’s input as well. The funds available to the State under NCCF amount to Rs.459.45 crore which is inclusive of Rs.100 crore allotted to Rajasthan during the floods in 2006.

Drawing the Prime Minister’s attention to the need for early completion of the power projects under construction so that rabi 2009-10 would have additional power availability, Mr. Gehlot sought funds for the Barsinghsar power project, and units 2, 5 and 6 of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Project.