Millennium Post

Govt mulls diesel subsidy for irrigation if Monsoon is poor

With growing expectations of a subnormal monsoon this year, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Monday said his department will soon move a cabinet note to introduce a diesel subsidy scheme to provide irrigation to protect standing crops in the event of a rainfall deficit.

In its second forecast on Monday, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said the southwest monsoon may be below normal, with the country likely to receive 93 per cent of the long-period average rainfall. It also indicated the likelihood of the El Nino effect, which may result in deficient rains, especially in the latter half of the monsoon season.

‘We are fully geared up to face any drought situation. We are alert and seriously working on measures to meet any eventualities arising out of drought or deficit rainfall situation,’ Singh said.

‘We will soon move a cabinet note seeking approval for introduction of a diesel subsidy scheme for providing protective irrigation to standing crops in rainfall deficit areas,’ he said. During the drought years in 2009 and 2012, the previous United Progressive Alliance government had announced a 50 per cent diesel subsidy for farmers in rainfall deficit areas.

Sources said the ministry is working on a similar scheme. Besides the diesel subsidy, Singh said his ministry is working on a cabinet note to seek permission on six key measures much in advance so that they can be implemented quickly if states declare a drought. The other cabinet proposals include rescheduling crop loans and providing interest subvention in drought-hit areas.

It proposes to raise the subsidy ceiling to buy seeds, including drought-tolerant varieties, and partially compensate farmers for resowing, he said. Implementation of a special scheme for rejuvenation of perennial horticultural crops under the National Horticulture Mission, additional budget allocation under the Accelerated Fodder Development Programme to rainfall deficit states and additional allocation under the Rashtriya Kirshi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture for drought mitigation measures are other cabinet proposals that the ministry is working on, he added.

Singh said state governments have been advised to consult the National Crisis Management Plan on drought while managing any probable drought or rainfall deficit situation.
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