The Empowered Group of Ministers on Drought, or EGoM, the Centre’s top drought-management panel, in its first meeting on Tuesday reviewed the current farm situation and announced a subsidy of Rs 288 crore for cheaper seeds for rabi or winter-sown crops.
The government’s decision aims at redoubling winter crops to make good the loss in summer-sown paddy because of the current drought.
“We reviewed the situation. The rain situation has improved. We have decided to give Rs 288 crore subsidy on seeds for good quality rabi crops,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the drought panel, said.
The group of ministers under Mukherjee was set up to assess and monitor the farm crisis and enable swift financial decisions to offset the impact of the drought.
Mukherjee said the government had anticipated the rainfall deficiency to be as high as 36 per cent, but India’s southwest monsoon has improved and the deficit had come down to 26 per cent now.
“Timely measures (to fight the drought) have yielded results,” the finance minister said.
According to government data released on Tuesday, the net sown area or total area under paddy has shrunk further to 69 lakh hectares. This may trim rice production more than the government’s projected shortfall of 10 million tonnes.
The other members of the group of ministers are Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj C P Joshi, Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.