New Delhi: As the Monsoon rain recorded 22 percent deficiency, a concerned government has swung into action, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directing all departments and ministries to coordinate with states to meet any eventuality by monitoring the situation on a weekly basis.

The Central government has prepared extensive plans to deal with the deficiency in the Monsoon rainfall in some parts of the country and is in full readiness to address any situation that may arise due to any rainfall anomalies, an official statement said here on Monday.

It said the Prime Minister has been apprised of the situation and he has directed all departments and ministries to co-ordinate efforts with state governments to meet any eventuality and monitor the situation on a weekly basis.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the cumulative rainfall for the period from June one to July 15 is 22 percent less than the Long Period Average (LPA).

The statement said the rainfall deficiency which existed at the end of June has lessened somewhat, but the intensity and spread of rainfall over the next week or so needs to be watched carefully, especially in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan

"The progress of the Monsoon so far has not allayed earlier concerns," it said.

IMD’s forecast on Monsoon

The IMD's second stage forecast on June 22 predicted rainfall over the whole Monsoon season to be normal at 96 percent of LPA with model error of plus or minus of 4 percent, but this is now reportedly likely to be around the lower end of the range.

As on July 15, Monsoon has covered all parts of the country.

The statement said the government has already chalked out contingency plans and these will be rolled out in the areas which continue to receive low rainfall.

An inter-ministerial group under Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is reviewing the situation on a weekly basis and holding video conference with the state governments, it said.

While the prices of wheat and rice are stable, the prices of sugar, pulses and vegetable are showing an upward trend, the government noted.

In this context, it said a proposal for increase in subsidy for supply of pulses through Public Distribution System to BPL families is being brought before Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Rs 4,524 crore fund for NDRF

Sufficient funds to the tune of Rs 4,524 crore are currently available under National Disaster Relief Fund.

Suitable advisories regarding fodder availability have been issued in the states by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.

These include preservation of crop residue that may be used as fodder in the nest season, the statement said, adding sufficient funds for this purpose are available with the State Governments under various schemes.
    
All options for increasing fodder availability under Joint Forest Management Programme will be explored by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Priority to drinking water

The need for according the highest priority to drinking water was stressed. The Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation will henceforth be monitoring the status of the affected habitations on a weekly basis, rather than on a fortnightly basis as is presently being done.

There is sufficient availability of all seeds including of coarse cereals and pulses, the government said.

Sufficient seeds for various fodder crops such as maize, sorghum and bajra are available and will be made available to the State Governments, as and when required, it said.

Power availability for agricultural purposes will be ensured so that yield of rice is not adversely affected, the statement said.

Unallocated power of approximately 300 MW each is being made available to Punjab, Haryana and UP by the Ministry of Power, representing about 75 percent of the total unallocated power available for the Northern Region.

Adequate diesel for North West India

In addition, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been asked to ensure availability of diesel in the States, especially in North West India.

Adequate reservation for drinking water in the reservoirs will be ensured. States have been advised to phase out the release of reservoir water for irrigation in a way that in the event of there being less rainfall later on further requests can be met.

Any additional requirement for wages under the MGNREGA scheme will be met by the Department of Rural Development, the statement said while noting that Rs12,000 crore have already been released to the states during the current year.

"States have sufficient funds in hand. Increase in demand for employment has been reported only from a few states so far," it said, adding "the shelf of works to absorb additional labour has been kept ready with the states."

The statement said there has been reduction of around eight million hectares in the crop area sown compared to last year.

"While the reduction in area sown in case of rice could be covered over time, area reduction in coarse cereals is likely to persist," it said.

Rainfall over the four geographical regions of North- West, Central, South Peninsula and East and North-East India for this period has been lower than their LPAs by 33 percent, 26 percent, 26 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Scanty rainfall in North West India

Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Karnataka have till now received low rainfall.

On the other hand, the North East region, North Bihar and North Bengal have received and are likely to continue to receive heavy rainfall, the statement said.

The overall figure of 22 percent deficiency can, however, be misleading as the unevenness of distribution and periodicity of rainfall are also factors to be taken into account, the government said.

The 84 major reservoirs in the country that are being monitored by Central Water Commission have now begun to get filled but the current year storage is still 61 percent of last year storage and 78 percent normal 10-year average storage, it said.

However the levels in the reservoirs in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are more than the 10-yearly average, the statement said.

"The Ministry of Water Resources indicates that there is no real cause for concern as the reservoirs are now getting filled with heavy rains in the foothills of Himalayas, North-East and parts of Southern India," it said.

(Agencies)

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