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PM takes monsoon stock,calls for contingency plan

Met dept officials brief Singh on scenario,officials say no drought-like situation,but agriculture output may be hit....

With deficient rainfall in many parts of the country raising the spectre of a dip in agricultural production,a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday took stock of the monsoon situation and instructed officials to be ready with contingency measures to meet any eventuality.

Hours before he left on a four-day tour of France and Egypt,Manmohan Singh summoned officials from the Agriculture Ministry and the Indian Meteorological Department and apprised himself about the progress of the monsoon and its likely impact on the farming sector. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Minister for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan were also present in the meeting.

Sources said the Met officials made a presentation before the Prime Minister on the status of monsoon,highlighting the best and worst case scenarios. The Prime Minister was told that the worst on the monsoon front was most probably over and that rest of July was likely to receive good rainfall.

Officials from the Agriculture Ministry told the Prime Minister that though agricultural output was likely to take a hit,as of now,the situation was not very alarming. They said if there is good rainfall from now on,as is being predicted by the Met department,it would help the country in retrieving the ground lost in June and the first week of July.

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Sources said the Prime Minister asked the officials to ensure that there was no food scarcity even if the worst case scenarios were to come true. He is also said to have made an assessment of the food reserves available in the country.

Talking to reporters later in the day,Pawar said the next few days were absolutely crucial for the farming sector.

“I am keeping my fingers crossed. We do not know how the situation will turn out in the next week or 10 days. The IMD is saying he situation is improving. If that happens,we are out of danger,” he said.

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His ministry officials,however,conceded that the situation was ‘serious’ even in areas which are not completely dependent on rainfall for irrigating farmland. These areas are suffering on account of severe power shortage,brought about by the decreasing water level in reservoirs,because of which the farmers are unable to operate their water pumps.

The Prime Minister is expected to get another feedback immediately after he returns from his foreign trip on July 17. Pawar was also likely to make a statement in Parliament soon and brief the Cabinet on the situation.

Meanwhile,just 10 days after lifting the ban on export of food grains,the government on Monday refused permission to ship 9 lakh tonnes of wheat. In a notification,the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said it was rescinding its July 3 notification allowing limited export of food grains till March next year.

First published on: 14-07-2009 at 02:00:13 am
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