Facing the spectre of the worst drought in 50 years, Andhra Pradesh has appealed to philanthropists to donate spades and crowbars for labourers engaged under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
Authorities have called upon individuals and organisations to donate 1,000 spades and 1,000 crowbars, worth Rs.500,000 for 2,000 labourers in each mandal - an administrative unit comprising six to seven villages each.
A top bureaucrat has asked district collectors to use their good offices to convince individuals and organisations to make the donations.
The appeal is being made as the threat of drought is looming large for the first time in the six years of the Congress rule in the state. The government is worried that the livelihood of about 3.5 million agricultural workers and others in rural areas will be hit by the adverse seasonal conditions.
Against this backdrop, the government plans to cover the unemployed under an expanded NREGS, which assures at least 100 days of employment to at least one member of every poor family in the rural areas.
The government has already sanctioned Rs.5 million for each mandal to construct roads, burial/cremation grounds and undertake other works.
Since the government is not in a position to provide implements to such a large number of labourers for NREGS works, it has made a desperate appeal for help from philanthropists.
K. Raju, principal secretary for rural development, asked district collectors to motivate individuals and organisations to buy implements in open market and supply to the labour as "a token of solidarity with the toiling masses who facing serious distress on account of the failed monsoon".
With about 50 percent rainfall deficit, the agriculture operations in the state has been badly hit. According to officials, 80 percent of 1,128 mandals received deficit or scanty rainfall.