New Delhi: Every drought-hit state will prepare a weekly action plan to deal with drinking water shortages and make optimal use of existing water resources, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Wednesday.
Further, states have been asked to take up a drive for building farm ponds, adopt micro-irrigation practices and diversify towards less water-intensive crops, the minister said, adding that states have been asked to incentivize use of solar pumps for irrigation.
According to Singh, the decisions follow meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers of 10 drought-hit states over the past two weeks.
Large parts of India are in the grip of a drought after two successive years of below-average monsoon rainfall. So far, 266 districts in 11 states have been declared drought-hit, the government told Parliament last month. By the centre’s estimate about 330 million people are affected.
During the meetings, states were asked to bring water intensive sugarcane cultivation under micro-irrigation, Singh said, adding, farmers will be incentivized to make the shift.
Singh said that states are expected to identify all water bodies and use satellite technology to map their water resources.
For proper implementation of the recently launched crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), states were advised to make clusters of high-risk and low-risk areas, and use technology to gather data on the area sown and insured, Singh said.
In a series of judgements last week, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the centre and states for lagging behind in taking up drought relief work. Rapping states for an “ostrich-like attitude", denying reality, the court directed the centre to throw open the public distribution system to all rural families in drought-hit areas, and asked it to ensure that there are no delays in making wage payments under the employment guarantee scheme.