Imphal, July 21: Ministerial teams today visited four valley districts of Manipur to assess the drought-like situation in the state.
Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh yesterday constituted a cabinet sub-committee with himself in the chair and eight ministers as members to take stock of the situation.
The move came after farmers cried for help to bail them out. One-third of the total arable areas of Manipur remains without water.
The farmers are demanding that the state be declared “drought hit” and have sought help from the government to irrigate the fields with water from rivers and lakes. They are apprehensive that they will not be able to harvest paddy if the dry spell continues.
Manipur received only 63 per cent of the average annual rainfall this year and vast tracts of paddy fields in the valley are dry, the agriculture department said.
Though Ibobi Singh government is willing to declare the state drought hit, it is cautious because of the announcement by the Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar that the country has not reached the drought situation yet.
Though there is less rain this year, the situation has not reached the condition of 2009, where Manipur received only 43 per cent of the average annual rainfall.
Two ministers, accompanied by officials of the agriculture department, today made an on-the-spot assessments of the field conditions and also of water level of rivers, channels and lakes in the four valley districts of Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal and Bishnupur, the rice bowl of the state.
Education minister Moirangthem Oken, who visited paddy fields in Thoubal district along with rural development and panchayati raj minister Francis Ngajokpa, said the ministerial teams would submit their reports on the situation with suggestions on how to tackle the situation to the cabinet.
The cabinet would discuss the report and announce steps to be taken to help farmers.