The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM pledges drought vigil and relief

New Delhi, July 21: The government is closely following the monsoon pattern across the country and will make an assessment of the drought situation early next month.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha today that he had asked the cabinet secretary to hold weekly meetings with senior officials to monitor the extent of drought in many parts of the country.

The Prime Minister said the total rainfall in the period from June 1 to July 14 was 264 mm compared to the normal 291.9 mm. Of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions in the country, 16 have reported deficient/scanty rainfall, with the deficiency ranging from 25 to 51 per cent.

Telengana and Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh, Vidarbha in Maharashtra, western Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, western Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have received deficient rainfall. A clear picture of the drought conditions in these regions would, however, be known only after the end of this month, the Prime Minister said in a statement.

“The crop sowing season in all these states extends up to the end of July with delayed rainfall. The precise extent of unsown area can only be assessed after the end of July,” he said.

Singh, who is concerned about the impact of a weak monsoon on his government’s budgetary plans for the year, said the Centre has decided to increase foodgrain stock in areas that have received deficient rainfall. The state governments concerned have already drawn up plans to ensure supply of drinking water in these areas, he added.

The government, Singh said, “shall spare no efforts in providing all possible assistance to people in the eventuality of a drought”.

The Prime Minister said a committee was thinking of revising existing norms of assistance to states in the event of prolonged calamities.

Singh said he favoured that norms should be relaxed to extend additional assistance to such states.

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