After having consulted the states affected by drought this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to shortly announce several long-term measures to tackle the problem, official sources said here on Monday.
“Prime Minister has completed consultations with 11 Chief Ministers of drought-affected states. There is a general mood in the country for long-term measures to fight drought. He is likely to make some major announcements,” an official source told IANS here.
“Some time-bound measures to deal with droughts are on the cards,” the source said.
In the union cabinet meeting scheduled on Wednesday, Modi is likely to share with his ministerial colleagues what he discussed with the 11 chief ministers.
The performance of the ministries of agriculture and water resources vis-a-vis drought policies and water management may also figure in the cabinet discussion.
“In about 12 days, the prime minister met 11 chief ministers and heard them and their officials and experts on water scarcity and drought. Now suggestions are being examined and some policy level decisions may be taken,” the source said.
In his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio broadcast on Sunday, Modi said: “Many states have undertaken wonderful efforts to mitigate the drought.”
He also cited the use of technology by Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh in dealing with drought.
In their meetings with Modi, at least three chief ministers — N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Raghubar Das (Jharkhand) and Devendra Fadnavis (Maharashtra) — suggested that “instead of adhocism as was tried so far, there is need for some long-term measures”.
“The NDA government is committed to drought-free India and is working on a roadmap to achieve that in smooth and active coordination with the states,” the source said.
The union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on May 18 urged the drought-affected states to periodically review water shortage and prepare action plans on a weekly basis.
The central government has suggested that state plans should specifically aim to address shortage or scarcity of drinking water and ensure construction of farm ponds, adoption of micro-irrigation projects and diversification to crops using less water.
On May 12, the Supreme Court had asked the central government to revise the drought management manual prepared in 2010 to provide effective relief to calamity-hit farmers and prepare a national plan to tackle the crisis.
This year’s drought has affected over one lakh villages in 313 districts across 13 states, union Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh informed Lok Sabha on May 10.
The drought in the year 2009 had affected 334 district across 14 states.