The Assam government has declared more than half of the state as drought-hit, saying agriculture was badly hit due to scanty monsoon rains, officials said on Wednesday.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi late Tuesday. After deliberating in detail, the meeting resolved to declare 14 of Assam's 27 districts drought-hit.
The relief and disaster management department has been put on an alert with officials asked to review the damage caused to agriculture due to the unusual dry climate.
"We have asked all the deputy commissioners of the 14 districts to work out an action plan for ensuring supply of drinking water, fodder, and providing irrigation facilities to the farmers," Gogoi told IANS.
To fight the drought and minimise the woes of the farmers, the government decided on a series of measures, including opening up of nurseries for paddy plants, besides alternative irrigation facilities.
The 14 districts declared drought-hit are Bongaigaon, Cachar, Dhubri, Goalpara, Golaghat, Hailakandi, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karbi Anglong, Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur, Morigaon, Nagaon, and Sivasagar.
There has been a deficit of nearly 30 percent rainfall from the beginning of June to July 12 -- the 14 districts received 414.8 mm of rain in the period compared to an average rainfall of 588.8 mm.
"There has been extensive damage and loss to crops due to inadequate monsoon rains," Agriculture Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said.
"When there is a shortfall of 20 per cent or more rainfall and crops are damaged due to dry spell or lack of rains a state can declare a drought like situation," an official of the revenue and disaster management department said.
The meteorological department is pinning hopes on mid-July and August when monsoon activity increases in the northeast and decreases in other parts of the country.
"If the region receives abundant rainfall during this period, it will be able to make up for the deficit. Otherwise certain parts of the region might experience a drought-like situation," a spokesman at the Guwahati-based Regional Meteorological Centre said.
Last month, the Manipur government declared the state drought-hit.