A Central team which undertook a visit of Kerala to assess the damage caused by drought today said it would submit its report to the Union government within a week. The ten-member team headed by Union Agriculture Joint Secretary Ashwani Kumar held discussions with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on conclusion of their visit to different parts of the state in the last two days. The panel, which toured the state in two groups, said there was agricultural loss to the tune of 50 per cent in certain areas. "We have sought some more information from the state.
The report would be submitted to the Centre within a week after receiving the same," Ashwani Kumar told reporters here. An official release said Vijayan explained various problems faced by different sectors due to the drought. The impact of drought would be felt for a longer period in Kerala rather than in other states in view of the concentration of cash crop cultivation, he said. The Chief Minister said the state proposed to go for cloud seeding to stimulate rainfall in a bid to make available water in reservoirs, including the Idukki Dam. He also said the government after declaring the state drought-hit had done "everything possible" to mitigate the problems faced by the people. State Ministers T M Thomas Isaac, Mathew T Thomas, V S Sunil Kumar and P Thilothaman and Chief Secretary Nalini Netto also took part in the meeting. Kerala had already sought a Central government assistance of Rs 991 crore to deal with the drought situation. The state government had on October 31 last year declared the state drought-hit as it received less rain during the south-west monsoon and northeast monsoon season in 2016. Meanwhile, the Railways said water shortage in the state capital due to restrictions imposed by Kerala Water Authority (KWA) would affect train services. More than 400 coaches of various trains were being cleaned and readied for travel daily from Thiruvananthapuram Central and Kochuveli terminals that handle about 50,000 passengers every day, a Railway release said. The demand for water is about 12 lakh litres and 3.5 lakh litres for Thiruvananthapuram and Kochuveli respectively. As KWA had curtailed supply of water to Thiruvananthapuram Central from April 18 and to Kochuveli from yesterday, Railways was finding it extremely difficult to maintain thecoaches, it said. However, efforts were being made to fill water in trainsat other stations, where it is available, such as Kottayam and Alappuzha. This was causing detention of trains en-route, the release added.