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Drought situation in AP grim, says Naidu

Our Bureau

HYDERABAD, Sept. 19

DESPITE good spell of rains during August, the drought situation in Andhra Pradesh appears `grim' and concerted efforts are needed to tackle its fallout, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, has said.

The average rainfall deficiency was of the order of 30 per cent as of now, while in some districts it was nearly 50 per cent. Anantapur district in the Rayalseema region has been the worst affected with the groundnut crop badly hit, he said.

Untimely rains or long dry spells, which have become common in Andhra Pradesh during the past three years were impacting heavily on the overall agriculture and water situation, Mr Naidu said in his address at a three-day workshop on `Governing for good result with performance indicators'' with respect to the Rural Development Department at the Dr MCR HRD Institute.

Even during 2001, the State suffered an 8 per cent deficient monsoon season, with erratic rains and long dry spells. This year, though the monsoon brought good rains in the beginning, it played truant thereafter.

Referring to the worst-hit Anantapur, Mr Naidu said the Government had rushed sunflower seeds as an alternative to the groundnut crop, which was severely affected. Though the Government was willing to give funds, how much seed could we store, he posed.

Stating that many States were affected by drought, Mr Naidu proposed the linking of Ganga and Cauvery as a long-term solution. "More than the costs of the project, the overall positive impact in terms of recharging the depleting groundwater and improving the environment are very high. I have talked to the Prime Minister about it,'' he said.

Referring to the State Government's efforts to recharge groundwater and implement the watershed programme, Mr Naidu said an evaluation in September 2001 showed the following results. The average increase in water levels of 1.89 metres; an additional area of 2,15,028 acres under cultivation, about 42 per cent of wells rejuvenated, and milk production up by 2,94,021 litres per day. A total of Rs 940 crore had been spent on the watershed programme so far.

He said under Phase-V of the `Neeru-Meeru' programme about Rs 298 crore would be spent up to the end of 2002 to improve the overall groundwater and drinking water situation.

The Special Chief Secretary (Rural Development Dept) Mr S. Ray, in his introductory remarks said: "ours is one department which does not lack funds. The challenge is to get optimum results from investments and human resources available''.

The workshop with participants from various levels and districts will deliberate on these issues and come up with suggestions.

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