State chalks out an emergency plan; seeks Central assistance

Damage to crops almost 70 per cent

Eight districts report over 60 per cent loss

Dehra Dun: The long dry spell of the past six months has badly affected wheat and other rabi crops in Uttarakhand, forcing the State Government to seek a special compensation package from the Centre.

More than 60 per cent of the hill state of Uttarakhand is facing drought conditions, adding to the woes of the people already reeling under the effect of spiralling prices. While the State government is chalking out an emergency plan to provide immediate relief to farmers, a Central team is expected to arrive her shortly to survey various areas.

Maj. B. C. Khanduri, who met Union Food Minister Sharad Pawar at New Delhi, sought a special package from the Centre for farmers who have suffered losses due to drought-like conditions. He also expressed concern over the Centre’s move to curtail the quota of wheat and rice for the state, demanding 8000 metric tons of wheat and 65129 metric tons of rice.

According to a report of the latest survey conducted by the State Disaster Management Ministry, damage to wheat and other rabi crops due to the drought has gone even up to 70 per cent, while eight of the total 13 districts of the State have reported more than 60 per cent loss to crops.

“Our assessment showed that 3216 villages belonging to 37 tehsils of five districts alone have suffered crop loss of over 50 per cent due to the drought. Nainital has reported the maximum loss of 70 per cent while other areas have suffered losses between 32-50 per cent,” said State Disaster Management Minister Diwaker Bhatt.

Among the six tehsils of Almora, Ranikhet reported more than 60 per cent loss while Kafliger and Kanda tehsils of Bageshwar registered 64.66 and 60 per cent losses respectively.

Jakharidhar tehsil of Tehri Garhwal and Gairsain tehsil of Chamoli districts have suffered more than 60 per cent losses.

Meanwhile, Met Director Anand Sharma said Uttarakhand received below average rainfall during the months of December, January, February and March.

“Because of scanty rainfall during these four months, it is natural that crops might have been affected in the hilly region where irrigation facilities are far less,” said Sharma. Maj. Khanduri has also instructed Commissioners of both the Garhwal and Kumaon regions as well as district magistrates to assess the situation and workout the relief plan in the affected areas. PTI