Drought looms large in Ganjam

Berhampur: Drought looms large in Ganjam district due to lack of rainfall in the last one month.

While agriculture officials estimated the loss of paddy crops on 7,000 hectares, unofficial estimate put the affected area at not less than one lakh hectares.

Ironically, none of the district’s 22 blocks figures in the government’s eye-estimation list of drought-affected areas. In the list, 139 blocks of 21 districts have been shown as drought-hit.

“We have estimated crop loss in around 7,000 hectares due to moisture stress. The situation will worsen if there is no rain in the next one week,” said Deputy Director of Agriculture, Ganjam, Sudarshan Mohanty. Paddy has been grown on 2.22 lakh hectares this kharif.

While almost all the blocks in the district are affected by moisture stress, situation is worse in Jagannath Prasad, Patrapur, Digaphandi, Khallikote, Chikiti and Rangeilunda, he said.

“Since the situation was not too alarming in the district when the government released the drought-hit list, Ganjam missed out,” said an officer.

Now the revenue officials are also conducting survey on the crop loss. The joint eye-estimation report on crop damage will be submitted to the government soon, he said.

Meanwhile, different farmers’ organisations have urged the government to declare Ganjam as drought-hit. “Without waiting for the official report, the government should declare entire district drought-hit,” said senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu.

The government should waive crop loans of the farmers and provide them agriculture inputs for the rabi, said Rabi Rath, Convener of farmers’ body Chasi Surakshya Abhiyan.

Tenant farmers might take the extreme step if the government does not come to their rescue, said Simanchal Nahak, President of Rushikulya Raita Mahasangh, another farmers’ body.