700,000 Families affected – DMC
By Niranjala Ariyawansha
An estimated 700,000 farmer families have been affected owing to the prevailing drought in 13 districts of the dry zone, the Department of Disaster Management (DMC) warned yesterday.
The country's dry zone has not received any rainfall during the past seven months. In addition to that, a weak North-East monsoon with insufficient rain in October 2016 also contributed to the present situation, officials with the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management said.
Irrigation Director (Water Management and Training) Wasantha Bandara Palugasweva told Ceylon Today that the water levels in all major reservoirs had declined to 19 per cent.
He said due to this only 50 per cent of paddy fields could be cultivated during the past Yala Season with water from reservoirs and tanks coming under the purview of the Department of Irrigation.
He warned that if the anticipated rainfall fails during the North-East monsoon that is expected in September it could severely affect the cultivations during the Maha Season as well.
"The Irrigation Department owns some 395 reservoirs and tanks both large and medium scale.From that number there are 73 major reservoirs.
From all the reservoirs that come under our control some 1.5 million paddy fields are cultivated throughout the year.
But, due to the drought during the past seven months only 750000 paddy fields had been cultivated," Palugasweva said.
Another 30 per cent of paddy fields are being cultivated through water supplied by reservoirs and tanks owned by the Mahaweli Authority.
According to Palugasweva the drought had mostly affected the North, East, North-Central and Wayamba Provinces.
The main districts involved in paddy cultivation in the dry zone are Ampara, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala and Puttalam.
The dry zone usually receives rain from the North-East monsoon that arrives in September.
He also expressed hope that the expected rains would arrive at the very earliest. However, the Department of Meteorology has warned that there will be no rain in the dry zones of the island until October.
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