Ranchi, Aug. 18: Mounting pressure made by the Opposition to declare Jharkhand as drought-hit has prompted chief minister Hemant Soren to convene a high-level meeting tomorrow as well as mull all-party talks for a consensus on remedies and subsidies for farmers grappling with failed crops.
As of today, the state’s monsoon deficit stands at 28 per cent. Hemant, in his public meetings, has admitted that conditions in Palamau, Garhwa, Dumka, Godda and Koderma, in particular, were pitiable due to poor rainfall.
For tomorrow’s meeting, chief secretary R.S. Sharma, development commissioner A.K. Sarkar, principal secretaries and secretaries of disaster management, agriculture, drinking water and sanitation, rural development, water resources, food and civil supplies and allied departments have been directed to come with updated reports.
Chief secretary Sharma, who held a meeting with officials on this matter on August 14, is unlikely to take part in tomorrow’s meeting due to his engagements in New Delhi.
“I have an important meeting tomorrow with the Union road construction ministry and in the next couple of days I have other meetings in the national capital. But, the development commissioner and other senior officials will take care of matters in my absence,” Sharma told The Telegraph over telephone.
On his directions to officials, he said digging and levelling of soil under MGNREGS in dry areas would resume soon to ensure regular employment to villagers.
“Normally, this stops by June 15 and resumes in September-end. This year, it is different,” he said.
Furthermore, the departments of disaster management and food and civil supplies have been asked to ensure 10 quintal foodgrain at each PDS outlet to eliminate starvation deaths.
Where paddy couldn’t be grown due to water scarcity, agriculture department has been asked to give seeds and other amenities for alternative cropping.
The agriculture department has also been asked to compile rainfall reports across different areas and set up a taskforce to identify relief work needed. The disaster management department has been made the nodal body to execute relief work.
“Crop insurance benefits for farmers has been proposed where paddy and other seasonal farming activity have failed. The proposal is now with the chief minister for his nod,” disaster management department principal secretary K.K. Khandelwal said.