Rains: 2009 ghosts haunt govt, says ‘agriculturally’ better placed

FP

With the overall rainfall deficiency this monsoon tracing the pattern of 2009, when the country witnessed widespread drought over 350 districts, the government Friday said while the situation was a matter of concern, the news "agriculturally" wasn't as bad as three years ago in most parts.

"As of yesterday, the overall rainfall deficiency stood at 21 per cent. Parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Western Rajasthan and Gujarat remain regions of concern for us. In fact, there is little likelihood of recovery in agricultural activity in Karnataka and also in about half a dozen districts in Maharashtra. Agriculturally, the situation is better than in 2009 for rest parts of the country," Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna said after an inter-ministerial meeting of the Crop Weather Watch Group.

While in 2009, over 100 districts had been declared drought hit by respective states by the end of July, the Centre has not yet heard formally from states declaring drought this time.

However, the fact that 64 per cent of the districts have witnessed less than normal rainfall remains a cause of worry. In 2009 too, around this time of the year, 64 per cent of districts had witnessed less than normal rainfall.

The impact of deficient rainfall is reflected in the kharif crop sowing and water storages in 84 major reservoirs. While kharif crop sowing is lagging behind by about 56 lakh hectares currently, reservoir levels are about 24 per cent of their capacity — again similar to 2009.

The Agriculture Ministry data released Friday also shows paddy sowing lagging behind by about nine lakh hectares, with coarse cereals the major drag, behind by over 43 lakh hectares. While the sowing of oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton acreage is more than normal, the sowing of pulses is below normal in about 17 lakh hectares.

While Punjab and Haryana are also facing over 60 per cent deficiency in rainfall, there is not much lag in agricultural operations because of the irrigation facilities in the states.

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