Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked state governments to complete the paperwork to seek central assistance, start relief operations to help farmers overcome the current drought, and come down heavily on hoarders who try to profit from the reduced foodgrain production.
“I am told no state has sent its memorandum seeking assistance,” Singh told a conference of chief secretaries.
There has been an overall deficit of 25 per cent rain this monsoon. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Assam are among the worst affected states.
Singh also spoke of the Centre and States working together to contain the increase in prices of essential commodities.
“We will also have to ensure effective enforcement of stock holding limits and strong action against hoarders and black marketeers,” he said, emphasising on the need to activate the public distribution system, an important safety net to cushion the poor against price rise.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was blunt in telling the states that only state governments were empowered to act against hoarders and blackmarketeers. “I call upon you to use these powers to ensure that no black-marketing or hoarding takes place,” Pawar said.
Pawar had told the Lok Sabha earlier this week that only four states had invoked powers of detention against hoarders.