Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The serious concern over the prolonged dry spell has now yielded place to a sense of optimism in the Government about this year’s crop prospects following good rain since July 19.

At a video conference with district Collectors here on Thursday, Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy appeared upbeat when he contrasted the grim seasonal conditions last week to the changed situation following rainfall in several parts of the State since the past five days. He said paddy transplantation had picked up in wet as well as irrigated dry areas.

Deficit down

As a result of the wet spell, six districts had registered normal rainfall while in 11 other districts the deficit had plummeted to below the 20 per cent mark. He, however, asked officials to bring to his notice any instances of drinking water shortage. Revenue Minister D. Prasada Rao and several other Ministers besides senior officials were present. Interestingly, Dr Reddy attributed the problem of fertilizer shortage to panic buying by farmers who were purchasing their requirements for the whole year. He asked officials to take severe action against those hoarding fertilizers.

The Chief Minister asked the Civil Supplies Department to release into the open market, the stocks of pulses and other foodgrains seized in raids from traders instead of committing to the court and to take steps to tackle the problem of diesel shortage. He said palm oil would be supplied at Rs 45 a kg to white cardholders in Hyderabad from July 28. Similarly, red gram would be supplied at Rs 30 a kg in rural areas from next month.

Directive to Collectors

Dr. Reddy instructed Collectors to clear pending applications for ration cards by July 31, issue Rajiv Arogyasri health cards to white cardholders and disburse enhanced pensions to the physically handicapped from October 1. He also asked Health officials to rush medicines and personnel to tribal areas where malaria and dengue fever had broken out.

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