Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has announced that a drought will be declared in all districts of the state following a deficient Northeast monsoon. His statement released to the media comes days after farmers protested across the state demanding that Tamil Nadu be declared drought-hit.
The announcement also comes after a high-level committee was set up by the Chief Minister to assess the drought situation and the crop loss in the state. The committee, that was set up on 3 January and comprised senior bureaucrats, visited different districts and submitted their report on 9 January.
In the press statement released, Panneerselvam noted that an advisory meeting was held on Monday, following which a number of decisions with regard to drought were taken.
This includes waiving land tax for farmers and converting crop loans taken by farmers from cooperative and commercial banks into medium term loans.
The Chief Minister also said that a plea would be made to the Centre for drought relief funds.
While farmers’ groups peg the number of farmer suicides and deaths at over 60 owing to drought and crop loss, the Chief Minister stated that 17 farmers have killed themselves in the last two months.
Although the reasons for suicide are varied, the government will give Rs 3 lakh to each of the families affected, from the Chief Minister’s relief fund.O Panneerselvam
Referring to media reports of farmers dying of shock, he said that a detailed report from district collectors has been sought. Following this, he said families of these farmers will also be awarded compensation.
While Panneerselvam promised employment opportunities to people in rural areas who are affected by drought, the Chief Minister also promised that the number of work days under MGNREGA will increased to 150.
The state government also noted that Rs 3,400 crore will be spent on dredging all water bodies.
Meanwhile, to combat drinking water scarcity, the Tamil Nadu government will spend Rs 160 crore on urban drinking water supply and Rs 350 crore in rural areas. In addition, the state will also spend Rs 25 crore to increase groundwater.