PM presses alarm bell on drought

A concerned govt has swung into action, with PM directing all departments and ministries to coordinate with states.

Updated: Jul 23, 2012, 19:57 PM IST

New Delhi: As the monsoon rain recorded 22 per cent deficiency, a concerned government has swung into action, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directing all departments and ministries to coordinate with states to meet any eventuality by monitoring the situation on a weekly basis.

The central government has prepared extensive plans to deal with the deficiency in the monsoon rainfall in some parts of the country and is in full readiness to address any situation that may arise due to any rainfall anomalies, an official statement said here today. It said the Prime Minister has been apprised of the situation and he has directed all departments and ministries to coordinate efforts with state governments to meet any eventuality and monitor the situation on a weekly basis.

According to the India Meteorological Department, the cumulative rainfall for the period from June 1 to July 15 is 22 per cent less than the long period average (LPA).

The statement said 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 per cent of LPA with model error of plus or minus of 4 per cent, but this is now reportedly likely to be around the lower end of the range. As on July 15, monsoon has covered all parts of the country.

The statement said the government has already chalked out contingency plans and these will be rolled out in the areas which continue to receive low rainfall. An inter-ministerial group under secretary, department of agriculture and cooperation is reviewing the situation on a weekly basis and holding video conference with the state governments, it said.

While the prices of wheat and rice are stable, the prices of sugar, pulses and vegetable are showing an upward trend, the government noted. In this context, it said a proposal for increase in subsidy for supply of pulses through Public Distribution System to BPL families is being brought before cabinet committee on economic affairs by the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution.

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.
These include preservation of crop residue that may be used as fodder in the nest season, the statement said, adding sufficient funds for this purpose are available with the state governments under various schemes. All options for increasing fodder availability under joint forest management programme will be explored by the ministry of environment and forests.

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.