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India faces 'severe' drought: PM

India faces a "severe" drought but the country's ample food grain stock will ensure no one goes hungry, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2009 17:52 IST

India faces a "severe" drought but the country's ample food grain stock will ensure no one goes hungry, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.

Monsoon rains, the lifeline for farms that support more that half of India's 1.1 billion population, have been scant and about 40 per cent of India's districts have declared a drought.

"No one has control over drought. It's a severe drought," said Singh during a trip to the arid western state of Rajasthan to inaugurate a giant new oilfield, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Singh said there was sufficient food grain stocks to support the Public Distribution System, a government network that manages food distribution and the supply of grains to poor households at subsidised levels.

"We will ensure that people below the poverty line are not hit," he said.

For India's 235 million farmers, a bad monsoon can spell financial disaster because of the lack of irrigation.

Commodity experts say India's current food stocks are enough to feed the poor who would be eligible for state support for three months.

Low rains have ravaged India's rice, cane sugar and groundnut crops, and have disrupted the flow of water into the main reservoirs that are vital for hydropower generation and winter irrigation.