Weatherman has no good news as drought destroys crops
As Met Department officials warned yesterday that the prevailing dry weather would continue for some time, a senior agrarian official said the drought had destroyed more than 20,000 acres of paddy and other crops.
Agrarian Development Commissioner General Sunil Weerasinghe said Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Kurunegala were the worst affected districts while farmers in Vavuniya, Ampara, Monaragala, Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Kurunegala, Badulla, Matale, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa had also been severely hit by the drought.
He said some 5,829 acres of paddy cultivation in the Polonnaruwa district, 2,555 acres in the Anuradhapura district, 1,270 acres in the Ampara district and 1,868 in Puttalam district had been destroyed by the drought.
According to Mr. Weerasinghe, more than 21,000 farmers are in despair and the government has launched a relief programme, under which every affected farmer family will be paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 6,000, He said that at Friday’s crisis talks with Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Agrarian and Wildlife Services Minister S. M. Chandrasensa several contingency measures were discussed and one such measure was to remove sediments in irrigation tanks and increase their storage capacities.
Mr. Weerasinghe said it was also proposed to assess the damage caused to the crops and pay compensation accordingly.
Meanwhile, Meteorology Department Director S. H. Kariyawasam said the weather in the coming week would remain dry but light showers could be expected in the Western and Sabaragamuwa Provinces and in the Galle and Matara districts.
The National Water Supply and Drainage Board appealed to the general public to use water sparingly as the water level in the main reservoirs were dwindling rapidly due to the prevailing dry weather.
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