Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Tuesday that western India is likely to be worst affected by a sub-normal Monsoon, with possible drought-like conditions in some areas.
“Monsoon is delayed. Western India is expected to be worst affected and drought-like situation might prevail in some pockets,” Singh told reporters after a BJP delegation from Maharashtra met him on the issue.
According to the IMD’s data of cumulative rainfall till June 25, only seven of 36 meteorological divisions in the country received normal rainfall while over 80 per cent received deficient rainfall (20-59 per cent shortfall) or scanty rainfall (60-99 per cent shortfall). The areas where rainfall was normal are Kerala, South Interior Karnataka, Rayalaseema, East Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Sub Himalayan West Bengal and Andaman Islands.
The areas which are worst hit are Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada, Saurashtra and Kutch, Gujarat, West Madhya Pradesh, West Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Orissa and Coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Singh said a separate contingency plan will be worked out along with the state governments for drought-prone regions like Vidarbha in Maharashtra. “Vidarbha region is drought-prone. We will think of all possible measures to help farmers so that they are not forced to commit suicides due to crop failure,” he said.
The situation in Vidarbha, so far, is marginally better as compared to Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada meteorological sub-divisions in the state. According to the IMD data till June 25, while the cumulative rainfall was 55 per cent below normal in Virdarbha, the rainfall deficit in Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada was 61 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.
The rainfall deficiency has already delayed agricultural operations. According to data available with the Agriculture Ministry, the kharif sowing acreage was about 131 lakh hectares as on June 27 — about 48 per cent less than the acreage for the corresponding period last year. Similarly, the sowing of all major crops — rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton — is lagging behind as compared to last year.
The government is hoping that the situation will improve as the Met Department has predicted more rainfall after the first week of July. Singh said his ministry is in the process of getting Cabinet approveal for diesel subsidy to help farmers irrigate their fields using diesel pumps to offset rainfall deficiency.