Drought threat in 161 districts, warns FM
The threat of a drought looms large over India’s 161 districts and sowing of crops was down by a fifth, the Finance Minister said. “One hundred and sixty one districts have been declared as drought-prone,” Pranab Mukherjee told reporters.delhi Updated: Aug 11, 2009 16:38 IST
Deficient rainfall will result in a 20 per cent decline in sowing of summer crops, but Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said there was no need to press the panic button.
“There is no point in pressing the panic button. This country managed the century’s worst drought in 1987. We transported drinking water through railways. We organised fodder for the cattle."
“This country has the experience of handling the situation and I will advice not to press the panic button,” he said at the annual conference of chief commissioners and directors general of Income Tax.
The 1987 drought affected over 6,500 villages and 1.4 million hectares of land. Nearly 66 per cent of India’s 140 million hectares of cultivable land depends on rains, while the rest is irrigated.
Mukherjee said that 161 districts have already been declared drought-prone and added that “so far as kharif (summer-sown crops) is concerned.... sowing will be down by about 20 per cent.”
The meteorology department on Monday forecast this season’s monsoon to bring only 87 per cent of the usual rains.
On the impact of weak monsoon on economic growth, Mukherjee said he said he was “sticking to” Reserve Bank’s projection of six per cent-plus growth for the current fiscal.