Declare drought, opposition tells government

New Delhi: The opposition Wednesday urged the government to declare drought and take steps to contain a looming crisis caused by deficient rainfall.

Initiating a short duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha, Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav described the situation in northern India as “bad”.

“The situation is bad in northern India due to drought, specially in regions where paddy is grown. This will affect not just the present but the next crop as well,” Yadav said.

Janata Dal-United’s K.C. Tyagi said sowing was already less than average. “Why is drought not being declared?”

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Brajesh Pathak urged the government to announce a financial package for farmers.

Congress member and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh urged the government to make a contingency plan to mitigate the effects of a possible drought.

He underlined the importance of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in this context.

“In all drought-notified (areas), guaranteed employment in public work for 150, not 100, days should be given,” he said.

“The cost of the additional 50 days should be borne by the central government.”

Jairam Ramesh also urged the government to study the climate change vis-a-vis agriculture.

“Indian monsoon is changing. Today the monsoon is not what it was 10-20 years back. Overall rainfall has not changed but the pattern and distribution have changed,” he said.

“We must realise the reality of climate change and we need to embrace new techniques to fight (this).”

Rainfall deficit is maximum in central India at 63 percent, with severe shortfall in Gujarat region (91 percent) followed by Marathwada (80 percent), Saurashtra and Kutch (78 percent) and western Madhya Pradesh (76 percent), according to the India Meteorological Department.

Sowing area of kharif crops across the country this year is down by 43 percent at 182.4 lakh hectares, the agriculture ministry has said.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal