Monsoon worries grow, govt steps in

With inadequate rainfall adding to farmers’ woes in most parts of the country and creating a drought-like situation, PM Manmohan Singh has directed all departments and ministries to coordinate with states to meet any eventuality.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: With inadequate rainfall adding to farmers’ woes in most parts of the country and creating a drought-like situation, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has directed all departments and ministries to coordinate with states to meet any eventuality by monitoring the monsoon situation on a weekly basis.

As per the Meteorological Department, the monsoon has recorded a 22 percent deficiency this year. In simpler terms, the Meteorological Department says that the cumulative rainfall for the period from June 1 to July 15 is 22% less than the long period average (LPA).

As per the Met office, the rain deficiency in the Northwest region is -42%, in west & central region it is -23%. The rain deficiency in South is -22% and in the East and Northeast regions it is 7%. The overall national monsoon deficiency is 22% so far.

The Met office in a statement said that the rainfall deficiency which existed at the end of June has lessened somewhat, but the intensity and spread of rainfall over the next week or so needs to be watched carefully, especially in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

"The progress of the monsoon so far has not allayed earlier concerns," it said.

The IMD`s second stage forecast on June 22 predicted rainfall over the whole monsoon season to be normal at 96% of LPA with model error of plus or minus of 4%, but this is now reportedly likely to be around the lower end of the range. As on July 15, monsoon had covered all parts of the country.

The Met office further claims that next 10 days could prove critical to the progress of sowing since the rain deficiency is 40% in major agricultural states. A whimsical monsoon situation suggests that it would be hard to replicate the record 257 million tonne food grain production recorded in 2011-12.

The situation calls for the central government to chalk out contingency plans to meet any eventuality. Consequently, the Prime Minister`s Office (PMO) has sounded an alert over a deficient monsoon, directing ministries to help states facing drought-like situations by operationalizing contingency plans to distribute seeds, augment fodder and power and deal with drinking water shortages.

The contingency plans chalked out by the central government will be rolled out in the areas which continue to receive low rainfall. An inter-ministerial group is reviewing the situation on a weekly basis and holding video conference with the state governments.

Sowing of coarse grains like millet, jowar and ragi is short by 30 lakh hectares compared to normal and this is unlikely to be made up, although the government hopes that the deficit in rice, the main kharif food grain crop, can be addressed.
Concerned over the paddy crop in Haryana, Punjab and UP, the government has said 300mw of extra power will be made available to ensure the yield is not affected. During the 2009 drought, free power to farmers allowed extraction of groundwater which along with canal supplies saved the crops. Late September rains had also aided the yields.

Measures taken include making available "submergence resistant" seeds for states like Assam grappling with floods, drought-resistant varieties elsewhere and advisories on preservation of crop residue for likely fodder shortages. Seeds for fodder crops like maize, sorghum and bajra would be made available.

Sufficient funds to the tune of Rs 4,524 crore are currently available under national disaster relief fund. Suitable advisories regarding fodder availability have been issued in the states by the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.
The need for according the highest priority to drinking water was stressed. The Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation will henceforth be monitoring the status of the affected habitations on a weekly basis, rather than on a fortnightly basis as is presently being done.

Emergency measures add to the government`s concerns over a slowing economy although massive buffer stocks - currently thrice the levels usually maintained - means there should be no crisis in food supplies. But added expenditure and a dip in farm productivity adds to the Centre`s fiscal burden.

The government has, however, assured that it is in "full readiness" to meet any eventuality with the Prime Minister also directing his office and concerned ministries to constantly monitor the rainfall situation and the progress of the kharif season on a weekly basis.

With Agency Input

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