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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monsoon- failure to end into a severe drought in India

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While floods in the upper Assam’s Ronganadi river of Lakhimpur district – 600 km from Guwahati are claiming lives and property, and snapping rail and road links, the monsoon situation in about 177 or more districts of about eight states of India is becoming bad to worse as June approached July and July approached the opening of August during this rainy season. Some of the major drought hit states are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur.

The deficit of more than 10 percent in the nationwide rainfall for the entire season in many states of India is considered to be a drought by atmospheric scientists. Observing the rainfall data of June and July and poor rainfall in the opening of August this year, it is assessed by meteorologists that monsoon has gone to end into a drought. It has seriously affected the cultivation of paddy in all the eight states that are advised by the central government to plan in advance for the next cropping season. Conservation of soil moisture by adopting different methods of sustainable agriculture and planting drought resistant varieties of crops has been advised to states hit by drought or the drought like situations. It is strange and rather more painful that eastern and north-eastern states earlier known to be some wettest places on earth has been affected by drought this year.

The Central Government, in view of serious drought and rising prices of essential commodities has constituted a Crisis Team of group of ministers headed by the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The team has been given the task of minimizing the damaging impact of drought on food prices and improving the conditions of farmers affected by it. The team has the responsibility of monitoring the drought situation on day-to-day basis. Besides Pranab Mukherjee, the group of ministers has Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

In a high level meeting of ministers, the Prime Minister Dr, Manmohan Singh promised all assistance to drought hit states to deal with the situation effectively. He has asked the states to draw up contingency plans to tackle the problem immediately. According to the Prime Minister – the government will not hesitate to take strong measures and intervene in the market if need arises.

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