M A I N   N E W S

Pranab to head panel on drought, rising prices
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 13
In view of drought and rising prices of essential commodities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has formed a high power Group of Ministers (GoM) for monitoring the situation on day-to-day basis.

The GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will assess and monitor the situation arising out of drought or deficient rainfall, take decisions on policy issues and approve new and innovative schemes for effective management of the situation.

Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Rural Development Minister CP Joshi, Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia are the members of this crisis management group.

The GoM will review and monitor the drought situation and food prices on a day-to-day basis. It will also examine the existing schemes of the government and take decisions on any suitable modifications or relaxations that may be required for effective management.

With overall monsoon deficiency dropping further to 29 per cent less rains than the long period average (LPA), the situation is grim. Northwest is 43 per cent deficient, northeast 36 per cent, central India 19 per cent and south peninsula is 23 per cent rainfall deficient. Among the worst hit in the northwest are Haryana and UP with 61 per cent deficiency.

Annual rains are likely to be 87 per cent of the LPA this year. Monsoon, which brings around 80 per cent of the annual rains, has been more than 55 per cent less than average till about yesterday. If seasonal rainfall between June to September rainfall maintains at 87 per cent, as is the IMD latest forecast, this year could officially turn out to be a drought year. At present 177 districts in the country are facing drought.

Empowered to take quick decisions, the GoM will also ensure the timely availability of seeds, fertilisers, power and diesel to farmers so that the standing crop could be saved and they can prepare for advanced rabi sowing. 

In the latest data released by the Agriculture Ministry, as on August 12 the paddy coverage is 57.10 lakh hectares less than the last year. There is also a deficiency of 1.17 lakh hectares in area under total coarse seeds and 1.29 lakh hectares in sugarcane. Pulses and cotton are in the positive. Pulses have been sown in around six lakh hectares more and cotton around 11 lakh hectares more than last year.

Owing to less rainfall, area coverage under rice in UP and Bihar is reported less than last year. However as per Agriculture Commissioner NB Singh, planting will continue up till August-end in UP and Bihar.

“Good rains have been received in Orissa and West Bengal hence there would be 100 per cent normal area coverage in both these states. Area coverage in Punjab and Haryana is more than normal with 98 to 100 per cent support to paddy crop. In southern states rice is grown round the year hence seasons are complimentary to each other. Irrigation will be deciding factor for rice support,” says Singh.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |