With the Met department lowering its rainfall outlook to ‘deficient’ from the earlier ‘below-normal’ prediction, the Centre is preparing to deal with a drought in the country.
Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth on Tuesday chaired a meeting of secretaries to review the situation after the Met department lowered its predictions.
“Below normal rainfall and development of EL Nino effect (a sea surface occurrence that causes global changes in temperature and rainfall) assumes more significance because last year was also a drought year (88% rainfall of long period average) and farmers have already faced a lot of distress in Rabi crop because of unprecedented hailstorm and unseasonal rainfall in February, March and April,” said a note prepared for the meeting.
Secretaries of food and public distribution, home, earth sciences, agriculture, water resources, department of expenditure, rural development, power, environment, chairman railway board and CEO of Niti Aayog participated in the meeting. “All ministries and states have been asked to remain prepared as the possibility of drought looms large,” said a government official requesting anonymity.
The Centre has already written to states to initiate advance remedial measures like constructing water harvesting structures under the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) or other such schemes, promoting less water consuming crops, restoring irrigation infrastructure by desilting canals and replacing or repairing faulty pumps.
Besides, ministry of power has been asked to prepare contingency plans to ensure adequate power supply for farmers. Ministry of fertilisers has been asked to look for possible use of organic fertilisers as they are of great help in drought situations.
Ministry of agriculture has prepared a crop contingency plan for 580 districts of 25 states in the country with the help of central research institute for dryland agriculture (CRIDA). States have been advised to fine-tune their contingency plan in consultation with the central agencies.
Unseasonal rain had damaged crops in various states this year.
(With inputs from states)
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