Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: Even as the number of drought-hit districts has risen to 278, the affected 11 States have altogether sought additional Central assistance of Rs. 72,313.62 crore for relief including diesel subsidy to farmers.

Of this, Bihar has sought the highest (Rs. 23,071.13 crore), followed by Maharashtra (Rs. 15,059.64 crore), Rajasthan (Rs. 12,690.99 crore), Madhya Pradesh (Rs. 11,669.68 crore) and Uttar Pradesh (Rs. 7,789.14 crore).

An inter-ministerial group (IMG) headed by Union Agriculture Secretary T. Nanda Kumar will consider the reports of the Central teams on Friday.

It will give its recommendations to the High-Level Committee that will take a view for additional assistance from the National Calamity Contingency Fund. Central teams that visited Bihar, Jharkhand and Manipur have submitted their reports that will be considered by the IMG.

The States include Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. But for Nagaland, all the States have submitted memoranda for aid. Central teams have visited all the affected States including Nagaland.

Of these Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Manipur and Nagaland have declared the entire State as drought affected. Bihar has declared 26 districts out of 38 as drought affected.