NEW DELHI: The government has stopped short of declaring a drought but rolled out a relief package which includes subsidised diesel for irrigation, funds to ensure drinking water, seed subsidy for resowing crops and augmentation of fodder supply.
“The number of rain-deficient districts this year is more than in 2009,” said agriculture minister Sharad Pawar after chairing a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought. The meteorological department will update its forecast for August and September later this week.
Pawar is slated to individually meet chief ministers of six states – Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Karnataka — this week to asses the situation. The EGoM is slated to meet again after this ground level assessment. He said that 64% of the total areas comes under deficient or scanty rainfall this year.
“Out of 627 districts, 306 received deficient rainfall while 94 districts received scanty rains. Normal and excess rains have been reported in 169 and 55 districts, respectively. We have shared detailed contingency plans with states for 320 districts,” he said.
He said that the government has decided to release 1,440 crore for Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat under integrated watershed management programme and another 453 crore to Karnataka,Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.
Apart form that, the centre has also allocated 38 crore as interim assistance for states facing drinking water problems likeMaharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan. However, no immediate relief measures were announced forGujarat, which has received less than 30% rains.
“So far, no state has declared a drought. Whatever feedback and report we get from states, we are ready to provide them with assistance accordingly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Forward Markets Commission (FMC) has imposed special margins to curb price volatility in Potato, Soya bean, Soya meal and Turmeric contracts. It has also decided that no fresh positions will be permitted in the Potato contracts during the staggered delivery period of 15 days.
The RBI on Tuesday said rainfall deficit of 21% is likely to hit production of kharif crops, mainly coarse cereals and pulses, and could put pressure on prices of these commodities.Headline inflation persisted above 7% during the first quarter of the fiscal due to a rebound in food rates as well as high fuel prices.