With the monsoon playing truant and unusual rise in day temperature, the threat of drought is looming large over eight south Bengal districts which have recorded 31 per cent deficient rainfall till the first week of this month.
The state government will wait and watch till August 15 before declaring the affected areas, state Agriculture Minister Naren De said in Kolkata.
"The situation is serious and the deficient rainfall has put a question mark on paddy and agricultural production. Generally, 50 per cent deficient rainfall causes a near-drought condition and we are concerned at the situation," he said.
"Paddy cultivation will suffer badly," the minister said.
Already near-drought conditions were prevailing in Purulia, Bankura, Howrah, Hooghly and Birbhum districts, he said.
Purulia, an arid district, particularly was badly hit with very poor rainfall recorded, he said.
To overcome the situation, he said the government was considering alternative crops, like maize, dal and oilseed which require less water.