Government releases new drought management manual

Union agriculture, food, and public distribution minister Sharad Pawar yesterday released a 'drought management manual' at a function in New Delhi.

The manual is expected to prove an effective practical guideline for administrators, experts and civil society in implementing drought mitigation and relief measures and for alleviating distress of the drought affected people.

According to a press release issued after the function, the manual, prepared by the National Institute of Disaster Management, has drawn upon the rich and diverse past experience of drought management and suggests an extensive list of procedures and measures that need to be taken for alleviating the impact of drought.

Significantly, the manual has been prepared at a time when nearly half of the country has been hit by drought - the worst since 1972 - after the southwest monsoon was poor over 316 districts spread across 13 states, badly hitting farm production.

The country has witnessed seven major droughts in the last 30 years and 22 in the past 120 years. Increased climate changes following global warming has made rainfall pattern inconsistent and unpredictable leading to a rise in recurrence of droughts.

Evidently, effective and comprehensive management of droughts encompassing early warning, monitoring, relief and mitigation is a major concern in the domain of public administration, the statement added.

The department of agriculture and cooperation had requested the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) to prepare a manual reflecting a comprehensive and coordinated approach to management of drought recommending measures.

Last month, a parliamentary panel had directed the agriculture ministry to re-work its drought management and drought monitoring set-up, with adequate powers and expertise, in view of the severity and impact of this year's weak monsoon and also to adequately prepare for such future exigencies.