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With drought looming large, government gears up with contingency plans

With drought looming large, government gears up with contingency plans
New Delhi:  With the monsoon rain recording a 22 per cent 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.

A statement released by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) says an Inter-Ministerial Group under Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is reviewing the situation on a weekly basis and also holding video conferences with the State Governments.

Rainfall is nearly below 40 percent in main agricultural states, worst being Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

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, the official statement said.

The government is also taking emergency steps in some areas under contingency plans which would provide for supplies of high-yielding seed varieties, ensure fodder availability and increased power supplies in some areas.

Drinking water will also be prioritised over irrigation where necessary from reservoirs, the statement said, although current low water levels in major reservoirs are not a concern as they have been filling after recent heavy showers in the foothills of Himalayas, the north-east and parts of south India.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the cumulative rainfall for the period from June one to July 15 is 22 per cent 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.

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

Rains less than 90 percent would be a drought -- last seen in 2009 when India had to import sugar, pushing global prices to 30-year highs.

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

(With Agencies inputs)

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