Patna, Aug 14 IANS | 2 months ago

Millions of farmers in Bihar can now breathe a sigh of relief as heavy rains have brought hope of succour from the prevailing drought-like situation, an official said Thursday.

Heavy rains lashed Bihar Wednesday. More rains are expected in the next four to five days across the state, officials of the India Meteorological Department said here.

"Farmers are happy after heavy rainfall since Wednesday as it is a ray of hope from the drought-like situation," said Agriculture Minister Narender Singh.

He said the rains will help farmers save their seedlings from drying up. Some farmers will start transplanting paddy seedlings. Paddy sowing was delayed due to scanty rainfall.

With showers lashing Patna and many parts of the state, the rise in water level of river Ganga and other rivers is a threat for hundreds of villages in Bhojpur, Nalanda and Jehanabad districts.

"Water levels of rivers like Mahananda, Bagmati, Kamla Balan, Gandak, Budhi Gandak and Kosi are showing rising trend over the past two days, threatening hundreds of villages in over half a dozen districts," the official said.

Last week Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said the state government was ready to declare Bihar drought-hit.

"If there is no rainfall in the next two or three days, the state government will declare Bihar drought-hit any time after Aug 15," he said.

About 60 percent of the districts in Bihar were 40 to 60 percent rainfall deficit, said A.K. Sen, director of the India Meteorological Department, Patna.

Till early this week, an overall 28 to 29 percent less rainfall has affected paddy sowing in the state.

If Bihar is declared drought-hit this year, it would be the fourth drought in the past five years.

Last year, the state government had declared 33 of the 38 districts drought-hit due to less rainfall of nearly 25 percent.

Bihar had earlier faced droughts in 2010 and 2009 and a bad monsoon in 2012.

An estimated 70 million people, two-thirds of Bihar's population of 105 million, are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

(Posted on 14-08-2014)

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