Everything depends on rains in the next seven days, says India Meteorological Department
A presentation on the progress of monsoon by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has made the government confident this year will be a good crop year, but everything depends on rains in the next seven days.
“(After) the briefing that IMD made this morning (on the monsoon situation, I can say the) entire week will be a good week. If this prediction is correct, then I can definitely say we are out of trouble,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters.
Sixty per cent of India’s 140 million hectare cultivable land is rainfall dependent, while the rest is irrigated. “I am just keeping my fingers crossed, because ultimately one has to see what exactly happens. (Compare to) the situation that was there 10 days ago, today there is substantial improvement.
“Paddy sowing has increased by 75 per cent over the previous week, but still we haven't reached last year's level. We are sticking to Plan-A and we have not yet switched to the contingency plan,” Pawar said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in the morning reviewed the crop situation and directed officials to prepare a Plan-B. The weather office expects monsoon to be near normal in July, which is crucial for the 235-million strong farming community. The minister said even though the rainfall is not up to the mark in north-western India, the silver lining is that most of the farm land in these regions are irrigated.
“In Punjab and Haryana, there is less rainfall. But up to 90 per cent of irrigation is there and out of that, 50-55 per cent is irrigation through well. So, the problem is something different — it's the problem of power and diesel,” Pawar said.
The Cabinet Secretary has instructed the power secretary to provide additional power to Punjab and Haryana and more supply of diesel to these states has been granted through the petroleum ministry to facilitate irrigation, he added.
The minister said he would again brief the Prime Minister next Monday on monsoon and then apprise his colleagues in the Cabinet as well.