The Narendra Modi Government in Gujarat has sought Central assistance to the tune of Rs 14,683 crore in view of a drought-like situation in the State.

On Friday, the State Government urged a visiting Central team, led by Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, and Rural Development Minister, Jairam Ramesh, to release assistance to the tune of Rs 14,683 crore.

Central assistance

“We have asked the State Government to make this demand in two parts – one, immediate assistance for meeting the drought, which we at the EGoM can sanction, and the long-term plans for Narmada pipelines and other things, for which the State Government can approach the Planning Commission,” Mr Pawar told reporters.

Out of the Rs 480 crore demand for immediate solution to drinking water and fodder problems, the Centre has already released Rs 320 crore and the balance Rs 160 crore would be released in the next 45 days, he added.

Mr Ramesh said the Centre would consider increasing the number of employment days from 100 days to 150 days a year under MGNREGA schemes for the rural and poor masses.

Officials said the State Government may wait another fortnight before formally announcing a ‘drought-like situation’.

Poor rains

Gujarat has so far received only about 22 per cent of normal rainfall of 900mm a year. Saurashtra and northern regions have received very little of this, and Kutch only 2 per cent, as against the eastern and southern parts where it has been better.

Unlike 88 per cent sowing until July 2011, this year’s has been only 62 per cent. In acreage, as against sowing in 67.87 lakh hectare (ha) until July last, this year’s has been only in 54.53 lakh ha, a deficit of nearly 14 lakh ha.

Until the end of July last year, cotton was sown in nearly 22 lakh ha (80 per cent),groundnut in 11.32 lakh ha (71 per cent), paddy in 36.12 lakh ha (49 per cent) and bajra in 2 lakh ha (42 per cent), an official told Business Line.

In areas equipped with tubewells, drip irrigation and check-dams, this crop is likely to be saved.

(This article was published on August 3, 2012)
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