Report by Santanu Ganguly, New Delhi: The Central Government has prepared extensive plans to deal with the deficiency in the Monsoon/rainfall in some parts of the country. The Government is in full readiness to address any situation that may arise due to any rainfall anomalies.
The Prime Minister has been apprised of the situation and he has directed all departments and ministries to co-ordinate efforts with State Governments to meet any eventuality and monitor the situation on a weekly basis.
Situation So Far
The progress of the Monsoon so far has not allayed earlier concerns. 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
Rainfall over the four geographical regions of North-West, Central, South Peninsula and East and North-East India for this period has been lower than their Long Period Averages by 33%, 26%. 26% and 10% respectively. Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Karnataka have till now received low rainfall.
The 84 major reservoirs in the country that are being monitored by Central Water Commission have now begun to get filled but the current year storage is still 61% of last year storage and 78% normal ten-year average storage. The Ministry of Water Resources indicates that there is no real cause for concern as the reservoirs are now getting filled with heavy rains in the foothills of Himalayas, North-East and parts of Southern India.
a. Contingency plans have been prepared by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and shared with the States. These will be rolled out in the areas which continue to receive low rainfall.
b. There is sufficient availability of all seeds including of coarse cereals and pulses.
c. 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. Sufficient funds for this purpose are available with the State Governments under various schemes.
d. Sufficient seeds for various crops such as maize, sorghum and bajra are available and will be made available to the State Governments, as and when required.
e. All options for increasing fodder availability under Joint Forest Management Programme will be explored by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
f. Power availability for agricultural purposes will be ensured so that yield of rice is not adversely affected.
g. The need for according the highest priority to drinking water has been 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.
h. States have been advised to phase out the release of reservoir water for irrigation in a way that in the event of there being less rainfall later on further requests can be met.
i. While the prices of wheat and rice are stable, the prices of sugar, pulses and vegetable are showing an upward trend. 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.
j. Any additional requirement for wages under the MGNREGA scheme will be met by the Department of Rural Development. Rs.12,000 crore have already been released to the States during the current year. States have sufficient funds in hand. Increase in demand for employment has been reported only from a few States so far. The shelf of works to absorb additional labour has been kept ready with the States.
k. Sufficient funds to the tune of Rs.4524 crore are currently available under National Disaster Relief Fund.
l. An Inter-Ministerial Group under Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is reviewing the situation on a weekly basis and also holding video conference with the State Governments.