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The Economic Times

No drought alert yet, but centre warns of deficit rainfall

The alarm bell is pressed when there is a long dry spell during monsoon and the soil starts losing moisture.
NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked states to brace for deficit rainfall this season, although the weather office has stuck to its forecast of normal monsoon.

The suggestion came at the Centre’s first meeting on drought management held on Tuesday. The monsoon reached Kerala on June 8 — a week later than usual — and has made tardy progress since. It has not moved northwards for two days. The severe heatwave in most parts of the country, with the mercury soaring at 48 degrees Celsius in Delhi and above 50 degrees in parts of Rajasthan, has heightened anxiety over water scarcity and agricultural yield.

Officials, however, maintained that it was too early to predict the June-September monsoon season. The alarm bell is pressed when there is a long dry spell during monsoon and the soil starts losing moisture.

“There is no such alarming situation as the monsoon has just started. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast normal monsoon. There are 80 days to go.

But we should be prepared if there is any deviation in rainfall,” said a senior agriculture ministry official.

He said all states are prepared with their action plans and the Centre is also ready for any kind of support the states would need. “The Drought Action Contingency Plans (DACP) for 648 districts are ready. We will review the situation every week through video conferencing. It’s the responsibility of the states to declare drought. The Centre allocates extra funds and resources at the request of the states.”

The government reviews the status of rainfall, soil moisture, sowing acreage, reservoir condition, availability of fodder and progress of monsoon. “The latest IMD forecast says that conditions are favourable for monsoon to further advance. It is raining heavily in Kerala, Karnataka and north-eastern parts of the country. We expect the monsoon to soon advance over fertile lands of north and central India,” another official said.
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