Government admits monsoons below normal

Food minister KV ThomasWith the monsoon playing truant so far, experts have now warned that the drought situation can no longer be ignored and it was time for action. Food minister KV Thomas admitted today that the situation was a cause for worry and the government will have to initiate measures to check hoarding as deficient rainfall would lead to crop failure.

Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) chairman Ashok Gulati said, the situation as obtaining was very close to a drought scenario.

According to Gulati, the contingency plan should have been implemented earlier and irrigated areas should be supplied electricity. He said, the worst affected states were Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, parts of western Madhya Pradesh. He said Punjab had irrigation and if it was given electricity, the crop could be saved.

With experts sounding the warning bell , the government said, it could wait for a few more days and was ready to deal with the situation.

According to Thomas, there was a deficit of 23 per cent in the monsoon rains and the situation was  very bad in Karnataka, parts of Maharashtra, parts of Rajasthan, though improvement had been seen in Andhra Pradesh.

Even as he admitted, the situation was alarming, he said the government was taking steps to deal with it and a contingency plan was in place.