New Delhi: A worried government is preparing contingency plans to grapple with the possibility of a deficient monsoon. The cabinet secretary will soon convene a meeting of state agriculture ministers to draft an action plan to counter the rain deficiency that threatens to derail attempts to bolster economic growth.
Fully alert: Labourers try to revive a dried lake under the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme near Hyderabad. Mahesh Kumar A / AP
“The government has already directed the states to come prepared with their plans to tackle monsoon deficiency,” said a senior government official who didn’t want to be identified. These plans will be discussed at the meeting with the cabinet secretary, the country’s top civil servant, and a final action plan will then be put up before the Prime Minister for the intervention of the Union government, the official added.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has tasked Prithviraj Chauhan, minister of state in the PMO, with the responsibility of monitoring on a day-to-day basis the progress of the monsoon and the government’s readiness to deal with the situation should any deficiency arise, people familiar with the situation said.
As of now the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has not pressed the panic button. “There is no monsoon delay in north India. If there is rainfall in July, it will cover for the June deficit,” IMD director D.P. Yadav said.
Still, the government is leaving nothing to chance. The finance ministry has already been asked to examine a proposal to slash excise duties on irrigation and farm equipment. The government is also keeping a close watch on the availability and prices of wheat, rice and pulses that, as of now, are in abundant supply.
If the monsoon deficiency persists, the government may also increase allocation for irrigation schemes. The government is also considering revamp of a crop insurance scheme and providing drought-resistant seeds in up to 12 rain-fed regions of the country.