Lucknow: As many as 50 of the 75 Uttar Pradesh districts have been declared drought-hit, an official said on Thursday.
The revenue collections in the affected districts would remain suspended till March 31, 2016, the official added.
The decision was taken by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after assessing detailed district-wise report of the drought situation.
Among the districts declared drought-hit are Faizabad, Jhansi, Sant Ravidasnagar, Lucknow, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Ballia and Ghaziabad.
Extensive relief measures have been ordered by the chief minister and departments like irrigation, rural development, Panchayati raj, agriculture, social welfare, institutional finance, animal husbandry and health have been asked to execute special schemes to mitigate the problems faced by farmers in these areas, a government official told news agency.
Rescuers are moving hundreds of dehydrated lesser flamingo chicks from their breeding ground at a drought-stricken South African dam to a bird sanctuary in Cape Town, to save them from death by starvation and lack of water.
Their birthplace, Kamfers Dam in the Northern Cape, is one of only three breeding grounds for the famously pink birds in southern Africa, the other two being in Namibia and Botswana, according to researcher Katta Ludynia.
The rescued chicks take three to four months to fledge, and it is not yet clear whether they will eventually be released back into the wild in Cape Town or transported back hundreds of kilometers to their home in Kimberley, she said.
“There are still several thousand birds breeding in the dam in areas that still have water,” said Katta Ludynia, research manager at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). “It now depends on the water levels whether these birds will pull through.”
Ludynia said the sanctuary was caring for around 550 chicks, most of them dehydrated when they arrived Monday after having been abandoned by parents who went off in search of food.
The chicks are being moved to the sanctuary by plane and road.
SANCCOB is one of several centers across South Africa caring for around 2,000 chicks that were rescued from the dam.
Although it hosts the biggest population of lesser flamingoes in southern Africa, Kamfers Dam, north of Kimberley, is often dry and depends mainly on rainwater. It also gets some water from a sewerage works that releases water into its wetlands.
“The dam in Kimberley is so important because it is manageable, so we can secure the water level there. That might be the only site the flamingos can breed in southern Africa, if the drought continues in other areas,” Ludynia said. (VOA)