The government has also relaxed norms under MGNREGA to provide additional employment of 50 days per household over and above the 100 days in areas affected by natural calamities during 2015-16, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
"During 2015-16 and 2016-17 (so far), Rs 18,715.01 crore and Rs 9,367.19 crore have been released, respectively, to the drought-hit states under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)," Singh said.
The minister added that the state government is primarily responsible for taking necessary relief measures in the event of natural calamities.
Funds are available with the state government in the form of state disaster response fund (SDRF) and additional financial assistance is considered from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for natural calamities of severe nature, Singh said.
The government has released in advance the first instalment of SDRF for 2016-17 mounting Rs 2,551.9 crore to the drought-affected states.
Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan are reeling under drought.

Earlier, the opposition has raised concerns in the Rajya Sabha over the acute water crisis and increasing farmer suicides. The members of the opposition party accused the government of not releasing enough funds for the drought-hit states.

Opposition asked the government to complete 312 pending irrigation projects across the country in a timely manner to boost water supply for drinking purposes and agriculture.

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They had also asked the government to consider if more funds could be released to drought-hit states, saying the current allocation rate was less than half of what the states had demanded for 2015-16 to tide over the situation.


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