PATNA: The Bihar government today hiked subsidy on diesel by Rs 10 a litre to Rs 50 that will be given to farmers for irrigation purpose in view of the drought-like situation prevailing in the state.
Delayed onset of monsoon in Bihar has led to a 48 per cent rainfall deficit so far, officials said.
The decision was taken today at a high-level meeting of ministers and officials chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar said that a slew of measures have been taken to tide over the drought-like situation which is looming large over the state.
"It has been decided to increase the diesel subsidy for farmers from current Rs 40 to Rs 50 per litre for irrigation purpose.
The distribution of diesel subsidy would start from tomorrow (Monday) in the state in order to provide succour to the farmers," Kumar told reporters here.
Officials of India Meteorological Department, who was present during the meeting, told the CM that the state is likely to witness rainfall next week.
The state has witnessed an unusually long dry spell this season.
Besides, it has also been decided at the meeting to reduce the power tariff from existing 96 paise to 75 paise per unit for agriculture purpose, Kumar said adding that distribution of transformers, which in normal course is replaced within 72 hours, will now be done within 48 hours.
The power tariff has also been decreased to 75 paise per unit for the state government tube wells, he said.
Agriculture department officials have been asked to visit villages and assess the situation after taking farmers' feedback, the chief secretary said adding that seeds for alternative crops will be supplied by July 28 to every block especially in areas which have received deficient rainfall.
Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) has been asked to increase the number of tankers to 500 from the existing 175, he said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has told the officials that there was no paucity of funds as disaster victims have the first right over the state's coffers, he said and added that the CM would hold a meeting again on July 31 to review the drought-like situation and if a need arises, he may also declare a drought.
Nitish was apprised about the preparedness for tackling a drought by officials from the departments of agriculture, water resources, energy, PHED, disaster management, environment and forest, revenue and land reforms, animal and fish resources and Food and Consumer Protection.
PHED Minister Binod Narayan Jha and Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav participated at the meeting apart from CM's Advisor Anjani Kumar Singh, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar, Development Commissioner Shashi Shekhar Sharma and principal secretaries and secretaries of various departments.