Andhra declares near-total drought, seeks Rs4,000 crore aid

In its first major decision since K Rosaiah took over as chief minister, the Andhra Pradesh government has declared 971 of the 1,128 mandals in the state as drought-hit, involving 21 out of the state's 23 districts.

Announcing this at a press conference in Hyderabad on Wednesday, the chief minister said that in spite of the recent rains in various parts of the state, these mandals have recorded an average of 32 per cent deficit rainfall. The state would seek Rs4,000 crore in central assistance to tackle the situation and would submit a memorandum to the union government in this regard, he added.

According to Rosaiah, late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had wanted to declare drought in the state on 4 September, but died in a helicopter crash before he could do so.

Keeping in view the model code of conduct, drought has not been declared in Srikakulam district, where a by-election is being held for the Tekkali assembly segment. Hyderabad also does not figure among the drought-affected districts, as it has no rural pockets.

Consequent to the declaration of drought, Rosaiah said farmers whose crops had been damaged by more than 50 per cent would be eligible for supply of subsidised inputs. If the crops were not insured, they would also be eligible for rescheduling of crop loans.

The chief minister said he had been reviewing the seasonal conditions for the past two days, and the state government had already initiated several relief measures to mitigate the sufferings of the people. Senior officials have been nominated as special officers to the districts to monitor the implementation of drought relief measures.