Drought worsens, more funds needed for relief: Minister
As an unprecedented drought hits rice and other crops countrywide, a government minister warned yesterday that Rs. 3.7 billion allocated for relief might be inadequate.
Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said more than 20,000 farmers had been affected and more than 16,000 acres of paddy lands destroyed. He said the Treasury had made available Rs. 3,765 million for relief but the drought was now affecting areas other than the North Western and North Central Provinces and the number of farmers in need of state relief was increasing.
“Several ministries including the Ministries of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, Economic Development, Agriculture, Agrarian Services and Wildlife and Disaster Management are coordinating the drought relief efforts. The funds are being allocated to each ministry for the relief work” Mr. Amaraweera said.
While the NCP and the NWP which had been hit by a shortage of water for nearly six weeks continue to suffer, several districts in the Northern, Eastern, Uva and Central Provinces too were experiencing similar conditions, he said.
“As the area affected by the drought is increasing, we will need more funds,” the minister said. He said that providing drinking water was one of the main tasks undertaken by the Government while water for irrigation and seed for re-planting too were being provided.
Meanwhile the Department of Meteorology predicted yesterday there would be no rain until the end of this month owing to a disturbance in the south-west monsoon patterns this year.
“The present weather is not only affecting the country but the whole of South Asia. Except for a few scattered showers over the catchment areas in the hilly regions there will be little or no rain in other parts of the country,” a senior meteorologist said.
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