The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday asked the Centre to immediately release Rs 1401.54 crore as part of a financial assistance package for drought mitigation measures in the state. Speaking to a team from New Delhi that was in the state to study the situation on the ground, state Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said that 13.6 lakh acres of crops were damaged during the Kharif season and a 55 percent rainfall deficiency was observed in the Rabi season.
A press release from the Chief Ministerâ€™s office also said that the 10-member Central team was also informed that over 16.52 lakh small and marginal farmers were badly affected by the drought.
"Andhra Pradesh needs to be treated as special state because, on the one hand, it faces drought and, on the other, cyclones. No other state in the country is as affected by the vagaries of nature as AP," Naidu was quoted as saying.
The team is expected to submit its report to the central government within a week.
Just earlier this week, actor-politician and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan led a protest at Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, against the drought situation in the Rayalaseema region.
"For generations together, the rulers have neglected the Rayalaseema region, forcing thousands to migrate to other states in search of livelihood. I appeal to the people not to bear the injustices anymore," Kalyan said in a statement.
The Rayalaseema region comprises four districts â€“ Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur and Chittoor. The region has several drought-prone areas and witnesses farmer suicides and mass migrations annually.
"Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu dubs himself as a savior but he must stand by his word given to farmers," Pawan said, criticising the TDP governmentâ€™s policies towards the agricultural sector.
The CPI and CPM also supported Pawanâ€™s meeting and spoke about the drought in Rayalaseema and the failure of successive governments in tackling it.