Uttar Pradesh is staring at a drought, the senior-most official in the State has said.Noting that the State received low rainfall during the monsoon, Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar has instructed divisional commissioners and district magistrates to brace for a “potential drought”.Mr. Kumar has instructed officials to coordinate with all departments and take “necessary steps on a priority basis”.The Chief Secretary has issued a three-page order containing a set of instructions to various departments of the government, including those of Farm, Irrigation, Energy, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Animal Husbandry, Food and Civil Supplies and Water Resources. A government spokesperson said officials had been instructed to publicise ways of preserving moisture in the soil, to ensure that government tube-wells are operational, and fill ponds with water.Alternative crops“He also said that apart from food and seeds, adequate availability of alternative crops must be ensured,” the spokesperson said. Officials have also been told to get non-functional transformers changed within 24 hours, get hand-pumps activated and mobilise water tankers to supply water to households.There must also be sufficient feed for cattle and medicine in veterinary clinics, the order said. Wells must be deepened and farmers employed under the rural employment guarantee programme to meet the risk of famine. Mr. Kumar has instructed senior state and divisional officials to hold meetings at the district level with officials of all related departments and as per the parameters of the drought manual of 2016 examine the ground situation in their districts.If the districts expect to be affected by drought, the local officials have been I asked a to provide the government with a specific proposal recommendation by October 25.From October 30 to January, 2018, official will also have to produce weekly updates of the situation.Last year, the state government had declared 50 districts in UP as drought-affected.