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Contingency Plan For Dry Spell

Bhubaneswar: With many places across the State experiencing deficit rainfall this monsoon, the State Government is preparing contingency plan to tackle possible drought-like situation.  

Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra on Monday chaired a high-level meeting to review the agriculture status in the State. During the meeting, all District Collectors have been asked to prepare necessary action plans to mitigate the dry spell.

He noted that 30 blocks spread over 15 different districts may have to make use of an action plan to avert the crisis and asked the Collectors to work on that front.

In view of this, Mahapatra has directed the officials to keep all the irrigation facilities running and uninterrupted power supply to all such irrigation points. Besides, immediate power connection should be provided to newly set up lift irrigation points and borewells, he directed.

Concerned Departments and power distributions companies (Discoms) have been asked to hold discussions and come up with both short and long-term measures to mitigate the situation. 

All ongoing canal work will be expedited to ensure water supply to all areas on its banks and water into all the canals should be discharged as per need on a rotation basis, he said.

Mahapatra has also directed the preparation of block and panchayat-wise contingency plans in all districts. He has asked the blocks facing scanty rainfall to adopt alternate means of cultivation and has directed the Odisha State Seeds Corporation to provide necessary seeds in this regard.

Principal Secretary of Agriculture and Famers’ Empowerment Department, SK Vashisth, said, “30 blocks in 15 districts are experiencing moisture stress condition, which have severely affected crops. There is, however, no drought situation anywhere.”

Vashisth, who attended the video conference with Chief Secretary, also said that Collectors have been directed to ensure that agricultural workers get jobs under MGNREGA or other state schemes, as and when necessary.

“In places, where paddy cultivation has suffered damage due to low rainfall, farmers would be encouraged to grow alternative crops amid the dry spell,” he said.

Stressing that his Department has prepared a contingency plan to help the distressed farmers, Vashist further stated that the senior officials, during the meeting, also discussed ways to make the best use of the existing irrigation projects.

“The Chief Secretary has given directions for the creation of 20 lakh more mandays in rain-deficit districts to provide employment to agricultural workers. The State has thus far created 10 lakh mandays under MGNREGA,” he added.

Odisha has received only 571 mm of rain since June as against the anticipated 820.5 mm, a source at the Special Relief Commissioner’s Office said, adding that the average deficit rainfall in Odisha now stands at minus 30.3 per cent.

Seven districts –Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar, Angul, Boudh, Jajpur and Bhadrak –have recorded deficit rainfall anything between 39 per cent and 59 per cent, and 18 others registered below 39 per cent. The remaining five districts witnessed normal rainfall.   

In the month of June, the State recorded 16.6 per cent deficit rainfall, which increased to 21.3 per cent in July and 53.1 per cent in August.