Bangalore: Karnataka is staring at its worst drought in 42 years and its government has asked all the 34,000 temples in the parched state to conduct a special pooja seeking rain. At about Rs 5000 each, the special prayers will cost Rs 17 crore.
The order comes from the state's endowments ministry. The minister, KS Poojari, whose last name means "priest", has hastened to clarify that tax-payers' money will not be used for these rituals to propitiate the rain gods. Temple trusts will fund the poojas, says Mr Poojari.
Churches and mosques in the state have also been asked to conduct special prayers for rain. The BJP government of Jagadish Shettar wants these prayers conducted on July 27 and August 7.
The state government is yet to calculate the extent of crop loss in this monsoon season of deficient rain. Among the many states of India now facing drought, Karnataka is one of the worst hit. Large parts of north and central Karnataka have recorded almost 27 per cent deficient rainfall. (Read: India stares at drought amid poor monsoon)