Calamity in rice bowl if drought continues


Sri Lanka’s paddy production will be severely affected and thousands of farming families in the North-Central, North-Western and Eastern Provinces may lose their livelihood if the drought continues for another week, Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera warned yesterday.

One of the worst droughts in recent history has affected hundreds of thousands of people and threatens to destroy more than 150,000 acres of paddy and other crops. Picture shows a tragic scene in the Puttalam District where a drought-stricken mother and a child accompanied by their thirsty dog, carrying some water from far away to meet their urgent needs. Pic by Hiran Priyankara Jayasinghe

He said that at present drinking water facilities were being provided to people in those areas as it was the most urgent need but government assistance would have to be increased if the drought did not end.

“We will have to give compensation and provide dry rations to the people if there is no rain. The money for this will have to come from the Treasury,” the minister said.

It is feared that paddy and other crops in more than 150,000 acres will be destroyed due to the drought.  The areas worst affected are those which get water from the Kotmale and Polgolla reservoirs.

Many of the smaller tanks in the North-Central and the Eastern Provinces have also run dry.President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed a special committee comprising officials of five ministries to liaise with farmer societies and provide necessary relief to those affected by the drought.

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