State readies contingency plan to tide over truant monsoon

With monsoon playing truant in Gujarat,the state Agriculture and Water Supply departments have chalked out their separate contingency plans to deal with the situation,which may become worse if the rains continue to evade the state till July 10.

Written by BASHIR PATHAN | Gandhinagar | Published: July 4, 2009 12:14 am

With monsoon playing truant in Gujarat,the state Agriculture and Water Supply departments have chalked out their separate contingency plans to deal with the situation,which may become worse if the rains continue to evade the state till July 10.

The state Agriculture Directorate has convened an emergency meeting of all the district agriculture officers in Gandhinagar on Saturday to discuss the impact of delayed monsoon on the farm sector. The Water Supply department has directed the district collectors to press into service maximum number of water tankers to maintain potable water supply in rural areas facing the “semi drought-like situation”.

S R Chaudhari,Director (Agriculture),said: “The situation on the agriculture front is grim,and may worsen if the rain gods fail to bless Gujarat by July 10. We have worked out a contingency plan to help farmers,a copy of which has been dispatched to all district agriculture offices across the state.”

He added that farmers have done sowing for their kharif crops only in 12.10 lakh hectares of land till now,as against the total sowing in 86.49 lakh hectares usually done every kharif season across the state. And much of this sowing has been done in areas that have irrigation facilities,where ryots are less dependent on the rain-fed farming.

He said that among other things,the contingency plan advises farmers to switch from their long-term regular crops to short-term crops in view of the delayed monsoon. The plan also proposes to reserve an adequate quantum of seeds and supply it to farmers in case of emergency. “We have called a meeting of representatives of private agencies trading in seeds to ensure smooth supply of seeds to farmers at reasonable prices. Besides,the State Seeds Corporation has been asked to stock pile the seeds,” Chaudhari added.

Barring cotton and groundnut,other major kharif crops have seen a very marginal rate of sowing due to the prevailing weather conditions. Figures show that there is no satisfactory sowing of other kharif crops like paddy,bajri,jowar,maize,pulses,tobacco or even vegetables in most parts of the state due to delayed monsoon.

Ironically,the figures compiled by the Agriculture Directorate suggest zero sowing in Surat,Tapi,Navsari and Dangs districts in South Gujarat — the region considered to have surplus water.

Barring some parts of Saurashtra,where rainfall occurs intermittently,sowing in other districts of Gujarat,including Dahod,Panchmahals,Banaskantha,Sabarkantha,Anand,Kheda and Valsad,has been reported very marginal.

The delayed rains have also created an acute shortage of drinking water in most parts of the state,mainly in the remote rural areas.

This has forced the Water Supply Department to issue instructions to district authorities to strengthen local water sources and reserve water in all irrigation dams for potable purpose.

V S Gadhvi,Secretary,Water Supply,said: “Though we have initiated all the necessary measures by chalking out a contingency plan to tide over the present situation,we apprehend that 25 per cent of the total 18,000 villages in Gujarat may face an acute drinking water shortage if it doesn’t rain till July 10.”

At present,water tankers have been pressed into service in as many as 280 villages in the drought-prone districts of Kutch,Jamnagar,Porbandar,Junagadh,Banaskantha,Patan and Sabarkantha.

A senior official added: “If it doesn’t rain till July 10,more water tankers will have to be pressed into service in another 600 villages in the water-starved parts of the state. About 300 villages in Surendranagar district alone are facing water shortage,he further said.

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