New Delhi: Concerned over poor monsoon in more than half of the country, the Centre Tuesday announced a slew of measures, including a relief package of about Rs 2,000 crore to states facing drought-like situation and 50 percent diesel subsidy to farmers to save standing kharif crops.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, also decided to increase subsidy on seeds of various kharif crops and removed import duty on oilcakes to boost fodder supply for livestock.
Addressing the media after the EGoM meet, Pawar said that out of 627 districts in the country, "about 64 percent of districts have received deficient and scanty rains".
Asked how bad was the situation compared with drought- year 2009, he said, "Number of districts are more now."
Pawar pointed out that situation is serious in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab. He said the sowing area under kharif crops is lower than last year and "there will be some set back on production."
To mitigate the impact of deficient rains, Pawar said, "EGoM has decided to release Rs 1,440 crore to various states under integrated watershed programme for drought proofing."
Of which, Rs 501 crore will be provided to Maharashtra, Rs 424 crore to Rajasthan, Rs 320 crore to Gujarat and Rs 195 crore to Karnataka, he said.
The EGoM approved 50 percent diesel subsidy to farmers to save standing kharif crops in drought affected districts. The subsidy will be shared equally between centre and state.
The subsidy will apply to districts where rain deficit is more than 50 percent as on July 15, those regions declared as drought-hit by states and also those areas where there is continous dry spell for 15 days or more.
Besides, the government decided to provide Rs 453 crore to improve drinking water supply in drought-affected areas and another Rs 50 crore to boost fodder production.
First Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 21:02