Centre to review key programmes, drought management at 2-day meet

Even though no state has declared drought in any part of the country in kharif 2017, so far, the Centre is expected to discuss issues related to drought management and the spending of funds on drought-hit states, at a two-day annual conference to kick-start the Rabi campaign for 2017.

The conference, which is held twice every year – one before the kharif season and the other ahead of the rabi sowing season – will also review the progress of major central schemes like soil health cards, irrigation programmes.

It will also take stock of the flexi-funds availed of by states for mitigation of drought, in which states might be directed to indicate the programmes where such funds could be used, according to agenda notes circulated ahead of the meet.
The Central government has a limited role to play in the declaration of drought and it is the state which notifies the same based on parameters that includes, sowing progress, ground water level, rainfall progress, vegetation index, reservoir storage index etc.

For the kharif season, state can declare drought in any part not later than October 30, while for the rabi season it has to be declared not later than March 31st.

States need to submit their memorandum for assistance under National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) within a week of the date of declaration of drought only if it is of severe nature.

During 2016-17, the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry reported droughts of varying magnitude.

They had submitted Memoranda for Central assistance for drought relief. Inter-ministerial central teams visited these states/UT for assessment of the situation and requirement of financial assistance.

In kharif 2017, the southwest monsoon between June 1 to September 17 has been almost 6 per cent less than normal.

Around 237 out of 660 districts in the country received deficient rainfall till September 13, most of which were in agriculturally important states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra.

Though the total quantum of rainfall might be less than normal, factors like its distribution could play a critical part in determining final crop production.

The conference meanwhile will also chalk out a strategy for sowing of rabi (winter) crops like wheat and discuss ways to double farmers’ income by 2022.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh will inaugurate the conference at Vigyan Bhawan.

Eight groups will be formed to discuss each of the schemes with state agriculture officials and stakeholders to see if any improvement needs to be made.

The main rabi crops are wheat, barley, gram, pulses, linseed and mustard.