Weak monsoon soon, farm & power ministries raise contingency flag

Fears of food inflation and low power output likely from hydro power units

GN Bureau | June 4, 2015


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The southwest monsoon, which would be below normal this season, is likely to set over Kerala in the next 24 hours and two crucial ministries have announced plans to face the impending drought.

The forecast of a deficient monsoon has raised fears of inflation rising  and the agriculture and power minister have unveiled a roadmap to minimise hardships in the farm and power sectors and keep prices of food items in check.

The farm sector is experiencing a difficult phase and the deficient rainfall is bound to make it worse not just for the farmers but have effects on the manufacturing sector as agricultural sector provides a raw materials.

Total foodgrains production has declined to 251.12 million tonnes in the 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from a record production of 265.04 million tonnes in the previous year.

Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said, "in the agriculture sector, there would obviously be some losses if there are deficient rains. We have confidence and policies in place to ensure there is minimum damage to agriculture sector and the overall economy."

The minister said a new crop insurance policy will be brought in to protect farmers' incomes, while the government will take steps to improve domestic supplies through imports to check the price of pulses, which are already high.

Singh said the government is ready with contingency plans for 580 districts and is in touch with state governments and agriculture research institutions to tackle the situation.

On the other side of the spectrum, Power minister Piyush Goyal said that the contingency plans have been drawn up to meet any eventuality in case the deficient monsoon hits hydro power output.

"It's a matter of concern that the monsoon is expected to be below normal. We are conscious that this will result in a fall in hydropower production and the demand will also increase... The ministry of power and the ministry of coal are seized of the situation," Goyal said.

The minister also said that adequate coal is available at every thermal plant in the country to meet any shortfall in hydro-power output.

The met department has revised its rainfall forecast from 93 per cent to 88 per cent of normal for this year, with the north-west region of the country expected to be hit the most. Last year, the country had received 12 per cent less rains, which hit production of food grains, cotton and oilseeds.

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