Monsoon likely to be below normal: PMO report

PMO asked the Central depts and ministries to co-ordinate with states to meet “any eventuality".

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: July 24, 2012 2:37:13 am

Indicating that the rainfall may be below normal this monsoon,the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday asked the Central departments and ministries to co-ordinate with the state governments to meet “any eventuality” and monitor the situation on a “weekly basis” .

“The Prime Minister has been apprised of the situation and 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,” said a press released issued by the PMO on Monday.

The alarm bells were sounded after the Central government found that the sowing of kharif crop fell short by over 82 lakh hectares as compared to last year,while the water levels in 84 major reservoirs across the country were at 61 per cent of last year’s levels and 78 per cent of the normal 10-year average.

While the Met department had predicted rainfall over the whole season to be at 96 per cent of the long period average with model error of plus or minus 4 per cent,the PMO on Monday indicated that the rainfall will be “around the lower end of the range”.

“The progress of the monsoon so far has not allayed earlier concerns,” said the PMO,underlining that the rainfall in July has failed to offset the deficiency accumulated from June.

While the government had said that the July rainfall has “lessened somewhat” the deficiency at the end of June to 22 per cent,the PMO indicated its apprehension over the rainfall distribution,directing the concerned departments to keep a careful watch on the situation and its impact on agricultural operations.

“The overall figure of 22 per cent deficit can,however,be misleading as the unevenness of distribution and periodicity of rainfall are also factors to be taken into account,” said the PMO communique.

All the four geographical regions of North-West (-33 per cent),Central (-26),South Peninsula (-26) and East and North-East India (-10) have witnessed below normal rainfall so far.

While the overall rainfall in five of the last six weeks since the onset of monsoon in the first week of June has been below normal,the weekly rainfall situation appears to be marginally better than in 2009 when the country faced widespread drought.

The PMO said it has “sufficient funds” to the tune of Rs 4,524 crore under the National Disaster Relief Fund to assist state governments in meeting any situation caused by low rainfall.

It has named Karnataka,Maharashtra,Gujarat and Rajasthan as particularly vulnerable areas.

The government also outlined the steps being taken to deal with the situation,including region-specific contingency plans,alternative seeds,ensuring fodder availability and regulation of water release for irrigation.

While an inter-ministerial group,under the Agriculture Secretary,will be keeping a watch on the situation on a “weekly basis”,the Central government is now planning to increase subsidy on pulses to be supplied through PDS to counter the food price hike.

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