Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has urged commercial banks to join the government effort in tackling drought in the State as the emerging scenario is of a scale not witnessed for quite sometime in the recent past.

Addressing a special meeting of the State-Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) here on Tuesday, Mr. Chandy said the government had gone out of its way to prepare itself to deal with the situation, but it was proving to be inadequate.

Detailing the steps taken by the government, the Chief Minister said the Ministers had been put in charge of drought relief work at the district level to keep ‘supply lines’ working. District-level monitoring teams had been asked to salvage pipelines wherever they were in a state of disrepair.

Triple whammy

Unlike other States facing drought, Mr. Chandy said, the season had delivered a triple whammy for Kerala. The State was mostly reliant on hydroelectric power and found itself in a bind since reservoir levels were registering new lows.

So the crisis was unfolding at three levels – drinking water, power generation and longer-term implications for agriculture.

According to the Chief Minister, farmers were going to face the toughest of times since the destructive impact of the drought might hit them badly.

“This could play out over a period of the next three years, and in some cases even beyond,” he said.

Spreading problem

The government had initially declared four districts as drought-hit but had to add more to the list later. The cooperatives were asked by the government to declare a one-year moratorium on farm loans.

The ball was now in the court of commercial banks, Mr. Chandy said requesting them to match the government efforts. The gravity of the situation in the State had been conveyed to the Centre, he added.

Minister for Finance K.M. Mani, who also addressed the meeting, asked bankers to desist from taking coercive steps to recover farm loans. Loans should be ideally rescheduled from short-term to medium-term and from medium-term to long-term.

It was agreed at the meeting to call a meeting of bankers where Mr. Chandy and Mr. Mani would speak to individual banks.

  • Sees drought of an unprecedented scale

  • Says State effort alone will be inadequate