Government ready with crisis management plan for drought
The delay in its onset, which some foreign meteorologists attribute to El Nino, has made the officials alert.
The monsoon is very likely to reach the Kerala coast within two days and deliver nearly normal rainfall in the June-September season, but there’s uncertainty about the impact of El Nino, which has developed. The delay in its onset, which some foreign meteorologists attribute it to El Nino, has made the officials alert.
“We have our plans ready. But it’s too early to act. It’s just a ‘watch’ situation for us. There are several other warning indicators also, including long break during monsoon season, rise in fodder prices, depleting sources of rural drinking water supply, declining trend in the progress of sowing and out migration of rural population,” said a senior agriculture department official, who is part of the Crisis Management Group.
The aim of the drought CMP is to help all stakeholders be better prepared to manage the adversity with timely and effective response by government agencies.
The primary responsibility of managing drought, however, is with the state governments. The role of Centre is to help the states in effective management of disasters and provide additional resources in the form of foodgrain or financial assistance to combat the situation.
As per the plan, state governments are required to send weekly report on monsoon rains and its impact on agriculture from May 15 until the end of September to Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC), which has the mandate to prepare multiple-in-season crop forecasts and assessments of drought situation using state-of-the-art techniques and methodologies for selected major crops.
“MNCFC envisages use of remote sensing and meteorological data for assessment of crops in 17 agriculturally important states. The IMIS portal of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (MoDWS) also provide vital information on water provisioning in drought prone states,” the official said.
In the past five years, drought-prone states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have declared drought in many of their districts.
Last year, during the kharif season, Andhra Pradesh declared drought in its seven districts while Gujarat had in 11 districts. The situation in Karnataka was even worse where 25 out of 30 districts were facing the spectre of drought. Maharashtra declared drought in 26 of the 36 districts while in Rajasthan 9 districts were facing drought.
“We are keeping a close watch on these districts, which are under lot of distress... If rains fail again this time, things will be scary,” said another official.