The Centre has declared Kerala drought-hit, along with seven other States.
Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan told The Hindu that the declaration was based on a memorandum submitted to the Union Ministry of Agriculture seeking assistance for drought relief activities. He said a Central team would visit Kerala on April 18 to assess the situation.
The eight States have been sanctioned an assistance of ₹24,000 crore from the outlay for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the number of mandays under the scheme has been increased by 50 to take up drought relief works. Mr. Chandrasekharan said the crop loss due to drought was yet to be estimated.
Citing acute water shortage in the wake of two failed monsoons last year, Kerala had submitted a memorandum to the Centre on March 28, seeking an assistance of ₹992 crore from the National Disaster Relief Fund. Official sources said the memorandum had also sought additional foodgrains for the State.
Mr. Chandrasekharan along with Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar had met Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh and sought assistance.
In October 2016, the State government had declared all the 14 districts drought hit as the State received 34% less rain during the southwest monsoon followed by a 62% deficit rainfall during the northeast monsoon. The government had declared a moratorium on loans taken by farmers and District Collectors were issued guidelines for drought relief and mitigation.
The government had also kickstarted the Haritha Keralam mission to revive water bodies and promote rainwater harvesting as a participatory programme across the State.