Ranchi, July 6: The cabinet today decided to urge the ministers in charge of districts to thoroughly assess the weather situation and submit reports in a bid to combat the spectre of drought that has returned with a rain deficit monsoon season.
Cabinet co-ordination department's principal secretary N.N. Pandey said Jharkhand had so far received 45 per cent less rainfall this year, hinting that the cabinet move was aimed at preparing for any eventuality, especially drought-like situations which Jharkhand had to endure for two seasons in a row (2009-11).
A. Wadood, chairman, department of agricultural physics and meteorology in Birsa Agriculture University, pointed out that the state normally received 200-250mm rainfall during June.
"But this year, the state barely received 100mm of rainfall. Hence, special measures are badly needed to protect the kharif crop," he said.
A drought-wary government can, however, take succour from the latest meteorological figures, which suggest a dip in the rain deficit.
According to D.C. Gupta, joint-director of Patna Meteorological Office, the state recorded 168.7mm till Friday, against a normal average rainfall of 252.7mm, registering a deficit of 33 per cent.
Bokaro, which was facing 91 per cent deficit two weeks ago, has pulled back the figure to 59. Among other districts, Dumka has a 28 per cent rain deficit, Chatra 63, Dhanbad 52, West Singhbhum 41, Ramgarh 44 and East Singhbhum 46.
The deficit in the state capital was 56 per cent.
The reports of the ministers in charge would be discussed extensively at the next cabinet meeting on July 14, following which the government would decide its future course of action that may include promotion of alternative crops.
The departments of water resources, agriculture, land revenue and food and civil supplies in particular will be playing crucial roles in the assessment of the districts and finalising reports.
Health minister Hemlal Murmu, who will hold meetings in Giridih on July 11 and 12, said, "We will seek detailed reports from the local administration on the ground reality and expert opinion on remedies."
Murmu, who is also the in-charge of adjoining Dhanbad, said his visit to the coal capital would be soon finalised.
The cabinet also expressed concern at the unavailability of fertilisers and increase in their market prices. It noted that farmers in most of the districts had not yet planted seedlings, while transplantation may be delayed because of insufficient rain.
Transport minister Champai Soren, the in-charge of Dumka and Jamtara districts, and labour minister Chandra Prakash Choudhary, who looks after Bokaro and Ramgarh, are also expected to meet officials in their respective domains and submit reports to Munda before July 14.
Pandey reminded that chief minister Arjun Munda had written several letters to the Prime Minister, Union agriculture and fertiliser ministers requesting them to increase fertiliser supplies to Jharkhand under the Essential Commodities Act.
Last year, Jharkhand was given 95,000 metric tonne (MT) urea under the ECA quota. This year, the supplies have been sliced to 88,000 MT. The state government had demanded that 1.75 MT urea be given to it this year, since the foodgrain production during the kharif season was targeted at 80 lakh MT.