Citing ancient 'Sastras', the government cited these yagnas were performed for the general welfare of society, to increase fertility of soil, to invite rains, welcome peace and health for society.

"Keeping this in view, the EO (executive officer), TTD is directed to perform Yagnas and Yagams, Abhishekams etc for the purpose of receiving bountiful rains every year at the time of onset of monsoon season and also at various other times as is necessary to ensure various benefits to society," a government Order said.

According to state government officials, Nellore and four districts of Rayalaseema region -- Kurnool, Kadapa, Chitoor and Anantapur -- have received 39.2 percent less rainfall during the current southwest monsoon. The government's move has evoked criticism from a section of environmentalists who termed it 'laughable'.

"In today's day and age, isn't that laughable? Weather phenomena like rainfall and drought are affected by climate change as well as other factors, and there are perfectly rational scientific explanations for why that is happening," a spokesperson of Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment said.

Latest News from State News Desk