India drought: ’330 million people affected’
20 April 2016
From the section India
Image copyright EPA
Image caption India is heavily dependant on monsoon rains which have been poor for the past two years
At least 330 million people are affected by drought in India, the government has told the Supreme Court
Authorities say this number is likely to rise further given that some states with water shortages have not yet submitted status reports.
The drought is taking place as a heat wave extends across much of India with temperatures crossing 40C for days now.
An 11-year-old girl died of heatstroke while collecting water from a village pump in the western Maharashtra state.
Indian drought ’affecting 330 million people’ after two weak monsoons
Government says quarter of the population suffering, as NGO asks supreme court to order Modi government to do more to help
People from the drought-affected districts of Maharashtra collect water from a tank in Mumbai.
People from the drought-affected districts of Maharashtra collect water from a tank in Mumbai. Photograph: Divyakant Solanki/EPA
Agence France-Presse in Delhi
Wednesday 20 April 2016 12.07 BST
Last modified on Wednesday 20 April 2016 12.36 BST
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About 330 million people are affected by drought in India, the government has said, as the country reels from severe water shortages and desperately poor farmers suffer crop losses.
A senior government lawyer, PS Narasimha, told the supreme court that a quarter of the country’s population, spread across 10 states, had been hit by drought after two consecutive years of weak monsoons.
Narasimha said the government had released funds to affected regions where a crippling shortage of rainfall had forced the rationing of drinking water to some communities.
As summer hits India, reports of families and farmers in remote villages walking long distances to find water after their wells dried up have dominated local media.
Narasimha gave the figures on Tuesday after an NGO filed a petition asking the top court to order Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to step up relief to the hardest-hit areas.
High temperatures have hit parts of eastern, central and southern India in recent weeks, with scores of deaths reported from heatstroke.
Every year hundreds of people, mainly the poor, die at the height of summer in India, but temperatures have risen earlier than normal, increasing concerns about this year’s toll.
“We had never recorded such high temperatures in these months in more than 100 years,” said PK Mohapatra, the special relief commissioner in Orissa state.