The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naidu showers drought relief

Hyderabad, March 9: Drought politics, which dominated Tamil Nadu for the past few months, has now spread to Andhra Pradesh, with chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu announcing sops for drought-hit families to stem migration from villages to cities.

The chief minister has announced a Rs 266-crore scheme to provide immediate succour to the sufferers. The government will distribute 10 kg of rice free of cost to the 10 lakh families below the poverty line for four months.

This programme runs parallel to the scheme of providing rice at Rs 2 per kg started by the Telugu Desam Party in 1983. The subsidy on this rice scheme now stands at Rs 550 crore.

These schemes are in addition to the mid-day meal programme launched by the Naidu government for nearly 75 lakh school children at a cost of Rs 200 crore.

The Andhra Pradesh government, which has taken the Centre’s offer of rice in lieu of cash to launch poverty-eradication programmes, has sought another 20 lakh tonnes of rice for employment generation during the drought season.

The state is also facing a severe drinking-water crisis as the groundwater table has dipped dangerously and water sources have dried up with two months to go before the onset of summer.

Hyderabad city, which requires 230 million gallons of water per day, is getting only 120 million gallons from rivers and reservoirs.

“Another 40 million gallons per day are being supplied from groundwater sources,” said Hyderabad Water and Sewerage Board director B. Gopal.

The sops for the drought-hit will add to the state’s financial burden.

Andhra Pradesh, which already spends Rs 2,500 crore on subsidies and Rs 1,400 crore to service its debts, is facing an acute fiscal imbalance with a revenue deficit of 12 per cent of the budgetary allocation.

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