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Govt gearing up for poor monsoon

BS Agriculture Editor in New Delhi | July 14, 2004 09:39 IST

The government has started gearing up official machinery to meet the situation arising from the rainfall paucity in many parts of the country despite the weather office indicating possibilities of monsoon revival from around July 16.

The cabinet secretary on Tuesday held a meeting with the secretaries of the concerned ministries and departments, including agriculture, food, water resources, drinking water and women and child welfare, to review the situation. He asked them to prepare action plans to deal with any contingency.

The agriculture ministry has already dispatched its senior officials to visit the worst affected regions (Rajasthan, west Madhya Pradesh, Vidharba, Telengana and the north-western states) for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. They are expected to return here by tomorrow.

"The agriculture ministry will prepare necessary action plans for these regions based on the reports received from these officials", agriculture secretary Radha Singh said.

She said there was no need for any panic yet. The situation was not as bad as in 2002 when the country experienced severe drought.

She said till July 7, the cumulative rainfall in the country was 10 per cent below normal with 12 of the total 36 meteorological subdivision reporting deficient or scanty rainfall.

The medium term weather forecast issued by the meteorological department on July 12 indicated a revival of the monsoon around July 16.

However, even after the revival, areas like Rajasthan, west Madhya Pradesh, Vidharba, Telengana and north-western states of Punjab and Haryana are likely to get deficient or scanty rainfall.

But the situation was expected to improve in Rayalaseema, west Uttar Pradesh, east Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu.

Referring to the current crop sowing position, the agriculture secretary said paddy planting had taken place so far in 9 million hectares, against 9.2 million hectares in the corresponding period last season.

The major shortfall in sowing was reported from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Assam. However, area under rice had gone up in Punjab, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The sowing of rainfed crops, especially coarse cereals and pulses had suffered heavily. The area covered under kharif coarse cereals so far was only 8.8 million hectares, compared to 11.2 million hectares last year. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra lagged behind in the sowing of these crops.

Pulses could be sown only on 1.94 million hectares, against 3.5 million hectares covered till this date last year. However, the sowing of oilseeds was normal. In fact, about 7.48 million hectares were planted this year, against 7.31 million hectares last.

In the case of sugarcane, some area was diverted to other crops in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Cotton area had gone up thanks to better coverage in Punjab, Maharashtra and Haryana.

Regarding fertilisers, she said the gap in the domestic availability of urea at 500,000 tonnes, was expected to be met through imports. The entire requirement of 1.1 million tonnes of muriate of potash would be met through imports.

But there was no shortage of di-ammonium phosphate and the entire requirement of 3.5 million tonnes would be met through indigenous production.

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