LUCKNOW: Even as political parties continued to point fingers and accuse one another of not doing enough for the drought-hit farmers, a petty farmer committed suicide in Lalitpur district of Bundelkhand after his crop failed because of virtually no rainfall.

SAMBALPUR: Is Sambalpur heading for a drought? Well, if it does not rain for another week the farmers fears might just turn out to be true. While delayed monsoon has led to cultivation on only about 60 per cent land till now, those who dared to go ahead with cultivation await rains -- which seem to have changed its path.

Shokha Ram Das (65) stares at his five bigha land in Dumdumi village under Chharra gram panchayat, nearly 12 km south of Purulia town, awaiting the rains. With just 2 per cent cultivation till date, nearly 280,000 hectares of agricultural land in the district is lying vacant, facing a near drought situation.

Hundreds of farmers wake up every morning, hoping for a downpour.

An action plan have been prepared by the Hailakandi district administration to tackle the drought-like situation prevailing in the district, an official press release said. It may be mentioned that almost all the 322 villages in Hailakandi district including 25,000 farmer families have been badly hit by the ongoing drought-like situation.

While the agricultural scientists are urging for speedy completion of seedling transplantation to save the agricultural sector in this drought-like situation, the Agriculture Department expects that by the end of August, transplantation activities would be able to cover about 95 per cent of the winter paddy crop area if the present weather condition persists.

State Minister for Urban Development Dinesh Prasad Gowala recently urged the farmers of Cachar district to seek assistance from the Agriculture and Irrigation departments in view of the prevailing drought-like situation.

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The prolonged dry spell and insufficient rainfall has affected agriculture crops over 3,63,120 hectare in the State and the crop loss was more than 50 per cent in 2,65,103 hectare area.

Andhra Pradesh is facing a drought-like situation this year. The state had been receiving good rainfall ever since YSR Reddy became Chief Minister for the first term in June 2004. In his second term now, the Chief Minister is now thinking of declaring a drought in case the state does not receive sufficient rainfall by August 15.

There is a time bomb ticking under the world, but its leaders seem not to be aware of it. This bomb is different from any that war, terrorism and the movies have made us familiar with, because it cannot be defused at the last moment. This one has to be defused as soon as we hear it ticking. Otherwise, the countdown becomes unstoppable. All we can then do is run for shelter.