In a glaring development, Rajasthan government has issued a notification declaring 1,388 villages of 13 tehsils in four districts of Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Hanumangarh districts drought-affected, on Monday.

A total of 131 villages in Barmer district have been declared “severely drought-affected” and 92 villages as “moderately drought-affected”. In Jaisalmer, 632 villages have been declared “severe” and 40 villages “moderately drought-affected.”

Similarly, 13 villages in Jodhpur district are “severe” and 297 villages are “moderately drought-prone”. A total of 182 villages in Hanumangarh district are “severely drought-affected” and one village is “moderately drought-affected”, as per the notification.

The development comes in the backdrop of Central government releasing the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on farmer suicides in 2016 which highlighted the grave agricultural distress the country is facing.  The NCRB did not release the data on farmers’ suicides alongwith its much-delayed crime data on October 21, which coincided with the day of voting in the Maharashtra Assembly elections.

The Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI) report, a crucial source for data on farmer suicides, brought out by the NCRB was last published in 2015. The recent report shows that while Maharashtra saw a 20 per cent dip from the previous year, in line with the national trend, the state continued to top the list with 2,550 of the 6,270 farmers’ suicides recorded nationwide.

The provisions regarding the declaration of drought in these affected villages will remain in force for six months from the date of the notification.The state government, in another decision, approved a proposal to establish the District Legal Services Authority, Jaipur Mahanagar-II, and created 10 new posts. The creation of these posts will incur a financial burden of about Rs. 1.50 crore per annum.