The Cabinet Secretary on Monday took a meeting to review the situation arising out of rain deficiency and drought affected areas of the country. apart from the Chief Secretaries of all the drought-affected states the Secretaries of concerned Agriculture, Rural Development, Drinking Water, Animal Husbandry, Food & Public Distribution, Water Resources, Home Affairs, Finance, and Railways also took part in the deliberations.
The Central Drought Relief Commissioner made an overarching presentation to this Committee of Secretaries on rain fall deficiency and Kharif 2015, Rabi 2015-16 and the measures already taken and those are being taken to obviate difficulties faced by the farmers in the drought hit states.
The issue of the timely initiative on diesel, seed, horticulture, and fodder subsidy relief during drought was reviewed. Other critical issues of providing additional employment of 50 days under the MNREGA over and above 100 days, preparation of crop contingency plans for districts facing drought, and allocation for drought relief to be provided under RKVY were also discussed. The food-grain situation and its distribution through the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act, assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund and State Disaster Response Fund, provisioning for nutritional requirement of children and lactating mothers, the Mid Day Meal Scheme, and drinking water supply were also reviewed.
Thereafter, consultations were held with the Chief Secretaries of all the drought-affected states. This related to states’ specific problems and requirements, which were duly noted. After this exchange of views, the Cabinet Secretary directed the Central Government departments and ministries to take the following steps:
- Make immediate allocation of funds to the state governments under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for the procurement of fodder. State governments should also approach the Centre immediately for availing financial assistance under the National Life Stock Mission implemented by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries. A detailed advisory will be issued on measures for increasing availability of fodder to mitigate the effects of drought.
- The Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation to release funds for rural drinking water supply to obviate problems faced by state governments.
- The Ministry of Rural Development shall ensure that the drought-affected states give wage employment to people over and above the stipulated 100 days, and release funds timely to the States. The Ministry of Rural Development has already liquidated its liabilities accrued on the issue of wage payments to the states.
- Immediate drought relief to be provided through release of funds under the State Disaster Response Fund.
- The norms for immediate financial relief to drought-affected states under the National and State Disaster Relief Funds should be recast to take care of this situation. These norms will be finalized and implemented.
- The relief being provided on account of water supply through rail and water tankers to be maintained.
- The Cabinet Secretary shall monitor the situation arising out of rain deficiency and drought at regular intervals.