Ranchi, Aug. 19: Chief minister Hemant Soren, who also holds the agriculture portfolio, declared “early drought” in Jharkhand today after a review meeting with senior officials, confirming a current monsoon deficit of 28 per cent despite the ongoing wet spell and approving a Rs 62-crore relief package for farmers.
Chief minister Hemant proposed two cash schemes — Rs 14 crore to state agriculture department to buy alternate cropping seeds and Rs 2 crore for each of the 24 districts directly for deputy commissioners to carry relief and mitigation measures. By late evening, Hemant approved a sanction order of Rs 13 crore.
Hemant apart, key participants at today’s meeting included development commissioner A.K. Sarkar, principal secretaries and department secretaries of rural development, finance, water resources, drinking water and sanitation, disaster management, agriculture, food and civil supplies. Hemant and the battery of top bureaucrats analysed statistical data and satellite mapping from blocks.
As paddy cultivation failed in most districts, sowing of crops with low water use such as maize, jowar, lentils and oil seeds was proposed on priority basis. Farmers will be given seeds at 75 per cent subsidy.
The Centre will also be requested to extend crop insurance scheme till September 30 to help farmers recover losses with alternate crops. Banks will also be asked to suspend realisation of loans for now.
Paddy, the main kharif crop, has been hardest hit in Palamau, Garhwa, Chatra and Koderma, with figures not even touching 10 per cent. The average figure of paddy sowing is so far a meagre 43 per cent. Normally, till August 20, 80 per cent paddy is sown.
“These are measures to fight early drought,” Hemant said. “We need to wait till October-end for the final declaration of drought. For now, there is no need for an all-party meeting though suggestions are welcome,” he added.
A. Wadood, scientist at BAU, Kanke, said contingency funds of Rs 14 crore was enough. “There is time for crops like horse gram, ragi, urad,” he said.